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Danbury leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

I’m about to sell my basement flat in Danbury.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just received a half-yearly service charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

The sensible thing to do is discharge 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 managing agents will not acknowledge the buyer unless 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've recently bought a leasehold property in Danbury. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee 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).

I am employed by a long established estate agency in Danbury where we see a number of leasehold sales put at risk due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Danbury conveyancing firms. Could you confirm whether the vendor of a flat can instigate 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 commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or simultaneously with 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 Danbury conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Danbury conveyancing firm) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We suggested that you speak with several firms including non Danbury conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions might be helpful:

  • If the firm is not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?
  • How many lease extensions have they conducted in Danbury in the last 12 months?

  • Our conveyancer has advised that he intends to complete and exchange simultaneously on the disposal of our £150000 apartment in Danbury in 8 days. The freeholder has quoted £384 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and previous years statements of service charge. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge exorbitant fees for a flat conveyance in Danbury?

    Danbury conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes normally requires the buyer’s lawyer submitting enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to answer these enquiries most will be willing to do so. They are entitled charge a reasonable administration fee for answering enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average costs for the information that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some transactions it is above £800. The management information fee demanded by the landlord must be accompanied by a summary of entitlements and obligations in relation to administration fees, without which the charge is not strictly payable. In reality you have no option but to pay whatever is requested of you if you want to complete the sale of your home.

    Leasehold Conveyancing in Danbury - Examples of Questions you should ask Prior to Purchasing

      Does the lease include onerous restrictions? Best to be warned if redecorating or some other significant cost is anticipated that will be shared between the leasehold owners and could well dramatically impact the level of the service fees or require a one off payment. What is the length of the lease?

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Danbury