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Top Five Questions relating to Dorchester leasehold conveyancing

I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in Dorchester. Before I set the wheels in motion I require certainty as to the number of years remaining on the lease.

Assuming the lease is registered - and almost all are in Dorchester - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Dorchester. 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. 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 am employed by a busy estate agent office in Dorchester where we have experienced a number of flat sales derailed as a result of short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local Dorchester conveyancing firms. Please can you clarify whether the vendor of a flat can start 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. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or simultaneously with completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is to extend the lease informally by agreement with the landlord 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 Dorchester conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

When appointing a property lawyer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Dorchester conveyancing firm) it is essential that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We advise that you speak with two or three firms including non Dorchester conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be useful:

  • How familiar is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • If the firm is not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete our sale of a £325000 garden flat in Dorchester in 8 days. The landlords agents has quoted £336 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and previous years statements of service charge. Is the landlord entitled to charge such fees for a flat conveyance in Dorchester?

    For the majority of leasehold sales in Dorchester conveyancing will involve, questions about the management of a building inevitably needing to be answered directly by the freeholder or its agent, this includes :

    • Answering conveyancing due diligence questions
    • Where consent is required before sale in Dorchester
    • Copies of the building insurance and schedule
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your conveyancer will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Dorchester leasehold premises is £350. For Dorchester conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are required to provide the information.

    I bought a 2 bed flat in Dorchester, conveyancing formalities finalised 1995. How much will my lease extension cost? Comparable properties in Dorchester with a long lease are worth £212,000. The ground rent is £60 levied per year. The lease expires on 21st October 2090

    You have 68 years left to run we estimate the premium for your lease extension to range between £9,500 and £11,000 plus plus your own and the landlord's "reasonable" professional fees.

    The suggested premium range above a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we are not able to advice on a more accurate figure in the absence of comprehensive investigations. You should not use the figures in tribunal or court proceedings. There may be other concerns that need to be considered and you obviously want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Please do not move forward based on this information without first getting professional advice.

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    Lease Extensions in Dorchester