Frequently asked questions relating to Downend leasehold conveyancing
I am in need of some leasehold conveyancing in Downend. Before diving in I want to be sure as to the unexpired term of the lease.
If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in Downend - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars 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.
Estate agents have just been given the go-ahead to market my 2 bed apartment in Downend.Conveyancing has not commenced but I have just had a yearly service charge invoice – what should I do?
Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should pay 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 management companies 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.
I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a reasonable figure which is making it more attractive. I have since discovered that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a house with a leasehold title in Downend. Conveyancing solicitors have not yet been appointed. Will they explain the issues?
The majority of houses in Downend are freehold and not leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. We note that you are purchasing in Downend so you should seriously consider looking for a Downend conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease will likely included provisions such as requiring the landlord’spermission to conduct alterations. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the house is located on an estate. Your lawyer will advise you fully on all the issues.
I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Downend. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before my ownership?
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 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 agency in Downend where we have witnessed a few leasehold sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Downend conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension process for the buyer?
Provided that the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer 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 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.
Leasehold Conveyancing in Downend - Sample of Questions you should ask before Purchasing
In the main the cost for major works are not included within maintenance charges, although a few managing agents in Downend require leaseholders to pay into a reserve fund and this is used to offset against major works.
How many of the leaseholders are in arrears for their maintenance charge payments?
Many Downend leasehold properties will have a service charge for maintenance of the building set by the landlord. If you purchase the property you will have to pay this liability, normally in instalments throughout the year. This may differ from a couple of hundred pounds to thousands of pounds for large purpose-built buildings. In all probability there will be a ground rent for you to pay annual, this is usually not a significant amount, say approximately £50-£100 but you should to check it because occasionally it can be many hundreds of pounds.