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Frequently asked questions relating to Bedford leasehold conveyancing

I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great figure which is making it all the more appealing. I have subsequently been informed that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns purchasing a leasehold house in Bedford. Conveyancing lawyers have are soon to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in Bedford are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. it is apparent that you are buying in Bedford in which case you should be looking for a Bedford conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in transacting on leasehold houses. First you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions for example obtaining the landlord’sconsent to carry out changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your lawyer should advise you fully on all the issues.

My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Bedford. Conveyancing and Skipton Building Society mortgage organised. A letter has just been received from someone saying they have taken over the freehold. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1997. The conveyancing practitioner in Bedford who previously acted has now retired.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is make enquiries of the Land Registry to make sure that this person is indeed the new freeholder. There is no need to instruct a Bedford conveyancing lawyer to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I am looking at a couple of apartments in Bedford which have approximately 50 years left on the lease term. Will this present a problem?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold apartment in Bedford is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it reduces the value of the premises. For most buyers and banks, leases with under 75 years become less and less attractive. On a more positive note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the property for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of premises with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with Bedford conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend the lease They may agree to a smaller lump sum and an increase in the ground rent, but to shorter extension terms in return. You need to ensure that the agreed terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.

I am a negotiator for a long established estate agent office in Bedford where we have experienced a few leasehold sales put at risk as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Bedford conveyancing solicitors. Please can you confirm whether the owner of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

Provided that the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.

An alternative approach is to extend the lease informally by agreement with the landlord either before or after the sale. If you are informally negotiating there are no rules and so you cannot insist on the landlord agreeing to grant an extension or transferring the benefit of an agreement to the purchaser.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Bedford with the intention of speeding up the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Bedford can be avoided where you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
  • Many freeholders or managing agents in Bedford charge for providing management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the actual amount of the charges. The management information can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most frequent reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Bedford.
  • A minority of Bedford leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. Any bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are able to meet the yearly service charge and the actual amount of the service charge should be quoted in the bank’s letter. You will therefore need to provide your estate agents with the actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the Management Company, you should make sure that you are holding the original share certificate. Obtaining a duplicate share certificate is often a lengthy process and frustrates many a Bedford conveyancing deal. If a duplicate share is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (where relevant) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but you should verify this via your conveyancers. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is below 80 years. It is therefore important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • Bedford Leasehold Conveyancing - A selection of Questions you should ask Prior to buying

      The best form of lease arrangement is where the freehold title is owned by the leaseholders. In this arrangement the leaseholders have control and although a managing agent is frequently employed if the building is bigger than a house conversion, the managing agent is directed by the tenants. Where a Bedford lease has no more than 80 years it will have adverse implications on the salability of the property. Check with your lender that they are happy with remaining years on the lease. A short lease means that you will almost definitely require a lease extension sooner rather than later and it is worth discovering how much this will be. For most Bedfordlease extensions you would be be obliged to have owned the residence for two years in order to be legally able to exercise a lease extension. Be sure to enquire if there are any onerous prohibitions in the lease. By way of example it is very common in Bedford leases that pets are not permitted in in a block in Bedford. If you like the flatin Bedford however your dog is not allowed to move with you then you will be presented with a hard determination.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Bedford