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Common questions relating to Brentwood leasehold conveyancing

My partner and I may need to rent out our Brentwood ground floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Brentwood conveyancing practice in 2001 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to seek any guidance as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

Notwithstanding that your previous Brentwood conveyancing solicitor is not around you can check your lease to check if it allows you to sublet the premises. The accepted inference is that if the deeds are non-specific, subletting is permitted. Quite often there is a prerequisite that you must seek consent from your landlord or other appropriate person before subletting. This means you not allowed to sublet without prior permission. Such consent should not be unreasonably withheld. If the lease prohibits you from letting out the property you will need to ask your landlord if they are willing to waive this restriction.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Brentwood. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to completion of my purchase?

In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner 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. A critical element of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure 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 work for a reputable estate agency in Brentwood where we have experienced a number of flat sales derailed due to short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local Brentwood conveyancing firms. Please can you confirm whether the owner of a flat can instigate the lease extension process 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 start 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 for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done prior to, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.

An alternative approach is to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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.

Our conveyancer has advised that he intends to complete and exchange simultaneously on the disposal of our £225000 maisonette in Brentwood in seven days. The landlords agents has quoted £384 for Landlord’s certificate, insurance certificate and 3 years statements of service charge. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge an administration fee for a leasehold conveyance in Brentwood?

Brentwood conveyancing on leasehold flats more often than not necessitates the purchaser’s lawyer submitting enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to respond to such questions the majority will be content to assist. They are at liberty invoice a reasonable charge for responding to enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average costs for the information that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some situations it is above £800. The management information fee levied by the landlord must be sent together with a summary of rights and obligations in relation to administration charges, without which the invoice is not strictly payable. In reality you have little choice but to pay whatever is requested of you should you wish to sell the property.

We have reached the end of our tether in trying to purchase the freehold in Brentwood. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

Most definitely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Brentwood conveyancing firm who can help.

An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Brentwood flat is 37 Lodge Court High Street in November 2013. the decision of the LVT was that the premium to be paid for the new lease was £25,559 This case affected 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 57.5 years.

In relation to leasehold conveyancing in Brentwood what are the most frequent lease problems?

Leasehold conveyancing in Brentwood is not unique. Most leases are unique and drafting errors can result in certain clauses are missing. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

  • Repairing obligations to or maintain elements of the property
  • A duty to insure the building
  • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
  • Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage

You may encounter a problem when selling your property if you have a defective lease primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. National Westminster Bank, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, and Alliance & Leicester all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease does not cover certain provisions they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the buyer to pull out.

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in Brentwood