A brief guide to Cross Leases

The advice in this article is necessarily of a general nature. If you are considering purchasing a cross lease or have an issue with your cross lease please contact us for specific legal advice.

What is a Cross Lease Title?

A cross lease title consists of an undivided share in the underlying fee simple (or ‘freehold’ title), together with a leasehold interest in the flat (sometimes including a garage) built on the underlying fee simple title. A cross leave is generally considered to be an inferior form of title to a fee simple title.

Under a Cross Lease each Flat owner holds a share (a half share if there are two flats, a one third share if there are three flats etc.) in the fee simple title. All the owners of a share of the fee simple title then lease back to each Flat owner their respective flat (and garage if applicable).

Usually a single “composite” cross leave title issues covering both the leasehold title and the underlying fee simple title. However, you can also have separate fee simple and leasehold titles.

The outline of each flat and garage is noted on the Cross Lease Flats Plan (“the Flats Plan”). Some revised or more recent cross leases also have outdoor exclusive use areas.

What are some of the Problems with Cross Lease Titles?

A common problem with cross leases are the addition of rooms (typically conservatories) which alter the dimensions of the flat creating. It is very important to pay close attention to the Flats Plan and satisfy yourselves that the outline of the flat and the garage represents the true on-site situation. If there is any difference from the buildings on site to the dimensions shown on the Cross Lease Plan this could amount to a defect in the Title.

If your Flats Plan does not have outdoor exclusive use areas, all of the outdoor area is common use. In theory this applies even a private area for one flat has been fenced off. It is preferable for your cross leave to have an outdoor exclusive use area. This requires amending the flats plan.

Please note that if you own a cross leave title you need your lessee/lessor neighbour to consent to any additions to your flats. This is quite separate from obtaining a building consent from the local Council. Without your lessor/lessee’s consent some additions can breach the cross lease. Also, it may be necessary to revise the Flats Plan to record any additions.

What is in a Cross Lease Document?

The cross lease sets out the terms on which you can occupy the flat and the exact terms of each cross leave can differ. However, some of the more common and important clauses typically found in cross Lease documents are:

  • The property may only be used for residential purposes.
  • You are not able to keep on the property any cat, dog, bird or other pet which may unreasonably interfere with the quiet enjoyment of the occupiers of the neighbouring flat.
  • You are unable to make any structural alterations to the buildings or erect any further structures on the land without first obtaining the consent of the owner of the neighbour flat. That consent however cannot be unreasonably withheld.
  • The owners of the neighbouring Flat or their representatives may enter your Flat at all reasonable times to inspect the condition of the Flat. You have the right to do the same in relation to the neighbouring flat.
  • You are obliged to maintain the interior and exterior of your Flat in a neat and tidy condition, with all fences, gardens, lawns and hedges also being maintained in a tidy condition.
  • If you ever rent the property, any tenant must agree not to do or permit anything to be done on the property which would constitute a breach of the Lease.
  • A requirement for the owners of the flats to agree to any exterior colour scheme of the flat.
  • You will be responsible for a share of all costs relating to areas that are not separately leased (ie. the common area, often being driveway area).

Last updated: April 2021