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Top Five Questions relating to Charterhouse leasehold conveyancing

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

The lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the flat owner; in particular, it will set out if subletting is banned, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Charterhouse do not prevent strict prohibition on subletting – such a provision would undoubtedly devalue the property. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a duplicate of the tenancy agreement.

There are only Seventy years left on my flat in Charterhouse. I now want to get lease extension but my freeholder is absent. What are my options?

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 granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to locate the lessor. For most situations a specialist would be useful to try and locate and to produce a report which can be used as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer in relation to proving the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Charterhouse.

I’m about to sell my ground floor flat in Charterhouse.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just had a quarterly service charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

It best that you pay 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 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Charterhouse. Am I liable to pay 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 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).

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

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Charterhouse can be bypassed where you get in touch lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information needed by the buyers representatives.
  • The majority landlords or managing agents in Charterhouse charge for providing management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most frequent reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Charterhouse.
  • Some Charterhouse leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers obtain 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should make sure that you are holding the original share certificate. Arranging a duplicate share certificate can be a lengthy process and delays many a Charterhouse conveyancing transaction. If a new share is necessary, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (if relevant) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable verify this via your solicitors. A buyer’s conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the lease term is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such matters? Can you recommend a Charterhouse conveyancing firm to assist?

    if there is a missing freeholder or where there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant legislation it is possible to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to judgment on the price.

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Charterhouse property 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 affected 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 66.8 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Charterhouse