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Frequently asked questions relating to Charterhouse leasehold conveyancing

Helen (my wife) and I may need to rent out our Charterhouse garden flat for a while due to a new job. We used a Charterhouse conveyancing firm in 2001 but they have closed and we did not think at the time get any guidance as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?

Even though your last Charterhouse conveyancing lawyer is not available you can check your lease to see if you are permitted to let out the apartment. The rule is that if the lease is non-specific, subletting is permitted. There may be a precondition that you are obliged to obtain permission via your landlord or other appropriate person prior to subletting. The net result is you not allowed to sublet in the absence of prior permission. The consent is not allowed to be unreasonably turned down. If the lease prohibits you from subletting the property you should ask your landlord for their consent.

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only 72 years remaining on my flat in Charterhouse. I am keen to get lease extension but my landlord is absent. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be extended by the Court. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have used your best endeavours to track down the landlord. For most situations an enquiry agent should be useful to try and locate and to produce an expert document to be used as proof that the freeholder can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a conveyancer both on devolving into the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Charterhouse.

I’m about to sell my 2 bed flat in Charterhouse.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just received a yearly service charge demand – Do I pay up?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should pay 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 management companies will not acknowledge the buyer until 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. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Charterhouse. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before my ownership?

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. Strange as it may seem, 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).

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Charterhouse from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Charterhouse can be reduced where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start marketing the property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers representatives.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Charterhouse state that internal structural changes or addition of wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such works. Should you dont have the paperwork in place you should not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in advance.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved before the property is put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where a dispute is unsettled. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve 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 are still duty bound to disclose details of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as historic as opposed to ongoing.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should ensure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a replacement share certificate is often a time consuming formality and slows down many a Charterhouse conveyancing transaction. Where a new share certificate is required, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (if relevant) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable double-check via your conveyancers. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the lease term is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you identify whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your home on the market for sale.

  • After years of correspondence we simply can't agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Charterhouse. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

    Most definitely. We can put you in touch with a Charterhouse conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Charterhouse residence is Flat 89 Trinity Court Grays Inn Road in February 2013. the Tribunal found that the premium to be paid by the tenant on the grant of a new lease, in accordance with section 56 and Schedule 13 to the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 should be £36,229. This case related to 1 flat. The unexpired lease term was 66.8 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Charterhouse