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Cambridge leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in Cambridge. Before I get started I require certainty as to the remaining lease term.

If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in Cambridge - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

There are only Sixty One years left on my flat in Cambridge. I need to get lease extension but my landlord is absent. What options are available to me?

On the basis that you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be lengthened by the Court. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to locate the landlord. In some cases an enquiry agent would be helpful to conduct investigations and to produce an expert document to be accepted by the court as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Cambridge.

I today plan to offer on a house that seems to meet my requirements, at a great price which is making it all the more appealing. I have since discovered that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Cambridge. Conveyancing solicitors have not yet been appointed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in Cambridge ?

The majority of houses in Cambridge are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can help the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in Cambridge so you should seriously consider looking for a Cambridge conveyancing solicitor and check that they have experience in dealing with leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease will likely included provisions for example obtaining the freeholder’sconsent to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is part of an estate. Your conveyancer will report to you on the legal implications.

I am a negotiator for a reputable estate agent office in Cambridge where we have witnessed a number of flat sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have been given contradictory information from local Cambridge conveyancing firms. Could you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can start the lease extension formalities 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. The benefit of this is that the buyer can avoid having 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 simultaneously with completion of the sale.

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.

What advice can you give us when it comes to finding a Cambridge conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Cambridge conveyancing practice) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you talk with several firms including non Cambridge conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be helpful:

  • How many lease extensions has the firm carried out in Cambridge in the last twenty four months?
  • What are the charges for lease extension conveyancing?

  • I purchased a garden flat in Cambridge, conveyancing was carried out 9 years ago. Can you shed any light on how much the price could be for a 90 year extension to my lease? Comparable flats in Cambridge with over 90 years remaining are worth £189,000. The average or mid-range amount of ground rent is £45 per annum. The lease terminates on 21st October 2071

    You have 50 years unexpired we estimate the price of your lease extension to range between £35,200 and £40,600 plus legals.

    The figure above a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we cannot give you a more accurate figure without more detailed due diligence. You should not use this information in a Notice of Claim or as an informal offer. There may be other concerns that need to be taken into account and you obviously want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Neither should you move forward placing reliance on this information without first seeking the advice of a professional.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Cambridge