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Questions and Answers: Chesterfield leasehold conveyancing

There are only Sixty One years left on my flat in Chesterfield. I am keen to get lease extension but my landlord is absent. What are my options?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be lengthened by the Court. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to locate the freeholder. For most situations a specialist may be helpful to carry out a search and prepare a report which can be used as evidence that the landlord is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer both on investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Chesterfield.

I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to be perfect, at a great price which is making it more attractive. I have just been informed that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Chesterfield. Conveyancing solicitors have are about to be appointed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Chesterfield ?

Most houses in Chesterfield are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are purchasing in Chesterfield in which case you should be looking for a Chesterfield conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in dealing with leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. As a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions for example requiring the freeholder’spermission to conduct changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the maintenance of the estate where the house is part of an estate. Your conveyancer will appraise you on the various issues.

I own a leasehold flat in Chesterfield. Conveyancing and The Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage organised. I have received a letter from someone saying they have taken over the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1996. The conveyancing solicitor in Chesterfield who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to be sure that the individual purporting to own the freehold is in fact the new freeholder. It is not necessary to incur the fees of a Chesterfield conveyancing firm to do this as it can be done on-line for less than a fiver. You should note that in any event, even if this is the legitimate landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

What are your top tips when it comes to appointing a Chesterfield conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Chesterfield conveyancing practice) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you speak with two or three firms including non Chesterfield conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be helpful:

  • How experienced is the firm with lease extension legislation?
  • If the firm is not ALEP accredited then why not?

  • Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Chesterfield with the intention of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Chesterfield can be bypassed where you instruct lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ lawyers.
    • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Chesterfield leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or addition of wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord consenting to such alterations. Where you fail to have the approvals in place do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer first.
  • A minority of Chesterfield leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. Any 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are settled prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat 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 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 particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as over rather than ongoing.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should make sure that you have the original share document. Obtaining a duplicate share certificate is often a lengthy process and frustrates many a Chesterfield conveyancing transaction. Where a reissued share is needed, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if applicable) for this as soon as possible.

  • I acquired a split level flat in Chesterfield, conveyancing having been completed in 2011. Can you work out an approximate cost of a lease extension? Corresponding flats in Chesterfield with over 90 years remaining are worth £198,000. The ground rent is £55 invoiced every year. The lease ceases on 21st October 2080

    With 60 years unexpired the likely cost is going to span between £20,000 and £23,000 as well as plus your own and the landlord's "reasonable" professional fees.

    The figure above a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we are not able to supply the actual costs without more comprehensive due diligence. You should not use this information in tribunal or court proceedings. There may be additional concerns that need to be taken into account and clearly you should be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Neither should you take any other action placing reliance on this information before getting professional advice.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Chesterfield