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Top Five Questions relating to Chatteris leasehold conveyancing

I’m about to sell my garden apartment in Chatteris.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just received a half-yearly service charge demand – Do I pay up?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should clear 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 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.

I own a leasehold flat in Chatteris. Conveyancing and Halifax mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the reversionary interest in the property. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1995. The conveyancing practitioner in Chatteris who previously acted has long since retired.Any advice?

The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to be sure that this person is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to instruct a Chatteris conveyancing practitioner to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for £3. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I am looking at a couple of maisonettes in Chatteris which have approximately 50 years remaining on the lease term. Will this present a problem?

There are plenty of short leases in Chatteris. The lease is a right to use the premises for a period of time. As the lease shortens the saleability of the lease decreases and it becomes more expensive to acquire a lease extension. For this reason it is advisable to increase the term of the lease. More often than not it is difficult to sell a property with a short lease as mortgage companies may be unwilling to lend money on such properties. Lease enfranchisement can be a protracted process. We advise that you get professional assistance from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this field

I've recently bought a leasehold house in Chatteris. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

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. 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).

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Chatteris with the purpose of expediting the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Chatteris can be avoided where you get in touch lawyers the minute you market your property and ask them to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers representatives.
  • A minority of Chatteris leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is able to meet 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 purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential 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 an ongoing dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to present the dispute as historic as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should ensure that you are holding the original share certificate. Obtaining a new share certificate can be a lengthy process and delays many a Chatteris home move. If a duplicate share certificate is needed, do contact the company officers or managing agents (if relevant) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable verify this by asking your conveyancers. A buyer’s conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to where the remaining number of years is below 75 years. It is therefore important 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 premises on the market for sale.

  • I inherited a basement flat in Chatteris, conveyancing was carried out half a dozen years ago. Can you shed any light on how much the price could be for a 90 year extension to my lease? Corresponding properties in Chatteris with an extended lease are worth £208,000. The ground rent is £50 per annum. The lease terminates on 21st October 2076

    With only 55 years unexpired we estimate the price of your lease extension to span between £26,600 and £30,800 plus professional fees.

    The figure that we have given is a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we cannot give you a more accurate figure without more detailed investigations. You should not use this information in tribunal or court proceedings. There are no doubt additional issues that need to be considered and you obviously should be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. You should not take any other action based on this information without first seeking the advice of a professional.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Chatteris