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Common questions relating to Clifton leasehold conveyancing

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Clifton. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to 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. However, 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).

I work for a busy estate agent office in Clifton where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local Clifton conveyancing firms. Please can you clarify whether the owner of a flat can initiate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has been the owner 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. This means that the buyer need not have to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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 buyer.

Can you offer any advice when it comes to appointing a Clifton conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

If you are instructing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Clifton 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 talk with two or three firms including non Clifton 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 experienced is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • What are the legal fees for lease extension work?

  • Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Clifton with the purpose of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Clifton can be avoided where you instruct lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers representatives.
    • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Clifton state that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence issued by the Landlord approving such alterations. If you dont have the paperwork in place you should not communicate with the landlord without contacting your lawyer in advance.
  • If you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is a current dispute. You may need to swallow your pride and pay any arrears of service charge or settle 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 particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic rather than unresolved.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should make sure that you hold the original share document. Organising a duplicate share certificate can be a lengthy formality and frustrates many a Clifton home move. If a new share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this as soon as possible.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be wise to verify this via your solicitors. A buyer’s conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to where the lease term is below 75 years. It is therefore important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • Our conveyancer has advised that he intends to complete and exchange simultaneously on the disposal of our £175000 garden flat in Clifton in just under a week. The managing agents has quoted £300 for Landlord’s certificate, building insurance schedule and previous years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge such fees for a leasehold conveyance in Clifton?

    Clifton conveyancing on leasehold apartments usually requires the buyer’s lawyer sending enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to respond to such questions the majority will be willing to assist. They are entitled charge a reasonable charge for responding to enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average costs for the information that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some situations it exceeds £800. The management information fee invoiced by the landlord must be accompanied by a summary of rights and obligations in relation to administration charges, otherwise the charge is not strictly payable. In reality one has little option but to pay whatever is demanded if you want to sell the property.

    I bought a leasehold flat in Clifton, conveyancing having been completed 3 years ago. Can you let me have an estimated range of the fair premium for a lease extension? Similar properties in Clifton with a long lease are worth £176,000. The ground rent is £55 per annum. The lease comes to an end on 21st October 2083

    With only 61 years left to run the likely cost is going to be between £18,100 and £20,800 as well as professional fees.

    The figure above a general guide to costs for extending a lease, but we are not able to advice on a more accurate figure without more detailed investigations. You should not use this information in tribunal or court proceedings. There may be other 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 placing reliance on this information before seeking the advice of a professional.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Clifton