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Birkenhead leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

I am intending to sublet my leasehold flat in Birkenhead. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Is permission from the freeholder required?

Some leases for properties in Birkenhead do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord cannot unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience dictates that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting consent.

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only 68 years remaining on my flat in Birkenhead. I am keen to extend my lease but my freeholder is missing. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to locate the lessor. In some cases an enquiry agent should be useful to conduct investigations and prepare a report which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a conveyancer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Birkenhead.

Estate agents have just been given the go-ahead to market my garden flat in Birkenhead.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just had a yearly service charge invoice – what should I do?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should discharge the service charge as normal because all ground rent and service charges will be apportioned on completion, so you will be reimbursed by the buyer for the period running from after the completion date to the next payment date. Most management companies will not acknowledge the buyer unless the service charges have been paid and are up to date so it is important for both buyer and seller for the seller to show that they are up to date. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

I've found a house that appears to tick a lot of boxes, at a reasonable price which is making it all the more appealing. I have subsequently been informed that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns purchasing a house with a leasehold title in Birkenhead. Conveyancing advisers have not yet been appointed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Birkenhead ?

The majority of houses in Birkenhead are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are purchasing in Birkenhead so you should seriously consider looking for a Birkenhead conveyancing practitioner and check that they are used to dealing with leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. As a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions for example obtaining the freeholder’sconsent to conduct changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your conveyancer should advise you fully on all the issues.

I am attracted to a two maisonettes in Birkenhead both have about 50 years left on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold apartment in Birkenhead is a wasting asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The closer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it reduces the salability of the property. The majority of purchasers and banks, leases with under 75 years become less and less marketable. On a more upbeat note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises 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 property 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 Birkenhead 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.

Birkenhead Leasehold Conveyancing - A selection of Questions you should consider before Purchasing

    Is there a share of the freehold? Best to be warned whether a new roof is being installed or some other significant cost is coming up to be shared amongst the leaseholders and will dramatically impact the level of the maintenance charges or require a one time invoice. Please note that where the lease has no more than 80 years it will impact the value of the apartment. Check with your lender that they are content with remaining years on the lease. A short lease means that you will almost definitely need a lease extension at some point and it is worth finding out what this would cost. For most Birkenheadlease extensions you will need to own the premises for two years before you are entitled to extend the lease.

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Lease Extensions in Birkenhead