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Recently asked questions relating to Bracknell leasehold conveyancing

I’m about to sell my garden flat in Bracknell.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just received a half-yearly maintenance charge invoice – what should I do?

It best that you discharge the invoice 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 managing agents 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.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Bracknell. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?

Where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. It is an essential part of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to be sure to have an up to date clear service charge receipt before completion of your purchase. If you have a mortgage this is likely to be a requirement of your lender.

If you purchase part way through an accounting year you may be liable for charges not yet demanded even if they relate to a period prior to your purchase. In such circumstances your conveyancer would normally arrange for the seller to set aside some money to cover their part of the period (usually called a service charge retention).

I am employed by a reputable estate agent office in Bracknell where we have experienced a few leasehold sales jeopardised due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Bracknell conveyancing firms. Could you confirm whether the owner of a flat can initiate the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

As long as the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer need not have to sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

Alternatively, it may be possible 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.

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Bracknell from the perspective of saving time on the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Bracknell can be reduced if you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and ask them to collate the leasehold information needed by the purchasers’ lawyers.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Bracknell state that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord consenting to such works. Should you dont have the consents in place you should not contact the landlord without checking with your conveyancer before hand.
  • Some Bracknell leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are financially capable of paying the annual 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are settled prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is a current dispute. You may need to swallow your pride and discharge any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as over as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the Management Company, you should ensure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a new share certificate can be a lengthy formality and frustrates many a Bracknell home move. If a new share is required, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this as soon as possible.

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete the disposal of our £125000 flat in Bracknell on Tuesday in a week. The managing agents has quoted £312 for Landlord’s certificate, insurance certificate and previous years statements of service charge. Is the landlord entitled to charge such fees for a leasehold conveyance in Bracknell?

    For most leasehold sales in Bracknell conveyancing will involve, queries regarding the management of a building inevitably needing to be answered directly by the freeholder or its agent, this includes :

    • Addressing conveyancing due diligence questions
    • Where consent is required before sale in Bracknell
    • Supplying insurance information
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your conveyancer will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Bracknell leasehold property is £350. For Bracknell conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are obliged to supply the information.

    I invested in buying a ground floor flat in Bracknell, conveyancing having been completed in 2012. Can you work out an approximate cost of a lease extension? Similar properties in Bracknell with an extended lease are worth £176,000. The ground rent is £50 yearly. The lease ends on 21st October 2082

    You have 61 years left to run we estimate the price of your lease extension to range between £18,100 and £20,800 as well as costs.

    The figure that we have given is a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we are not able to provide a more accurate figure in the absence of detailed investigations. Do not use the figures in a Notice of Claim or as an informal offer. There may be other issues that need to be considered and clearly you want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Please do not take any other action based on this information before getting professional advice.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Bracknell