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East London leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Helen (my wife) and I may need to rent out our East London basement flat temporarily due to a career opportunity. We instructed a East London conveyancing practice in 2002 but they have closed and we did not think at the time seek any advice as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

Notwithstanding that your previous East London conveyancing lawyer is not available you can review your lease to check if it allows you to sublet the apartment. The rule is that if the lease is non-specific, subletting is allowed. Quite often there is a prerequisite that you must seek permission via your landlord or other appropriate person in advance of subletting. The net result is you not allowed to sublet in the absence of prior consent. The consent must not not be unreasonably withheld. If your lease prohibits you from subletting the property you will need to ask your landlord for their consent.

Estate agents have just been given the go-ahead to market my basement apartment in East London.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just received a yearly service charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

It best that you clear 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 managing agents will not acknowledge the buyer until 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 own a leasehold flat in East London. Conveyancing and Yorkshire Building Society mortgage organised. I have received a letter from someone saying they have taken over the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1996. The conveyancing practitioner in East London who previously acted has now retired.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is contact HMLR to make sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. It is not necessary to incur the fees of a East London conveyancing lawyer to do this as it can be done on-line for less than a fiver. You should note that regardless, even if this is the legitimate landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in East London where we have experienced a number of flat sales put at risk due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given contradictory information from local East London conveyancing firms. Could you clarify whether the owner of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has owned the lease 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. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed 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 purchaser.

What are your top tips when it comes to choosing a East London conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

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

  • How familiar is the firm with lease extension legislation?
  • What volume of lease extensions has the firm completed in East London in the last 12 months?

  • After years of correspondence we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in East London. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

    in cases where there is a absentee landlord or if there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant legislation you can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to make a decision on the price payable.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement matter before the tribunal for a East London residence is 20 Avonwick Road in July 2013. The Tribunal was dealing with an application under Section 26 of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 for a determination of the freehold value of the property. It was concluded that the price to be paid was Fifteen Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy (£15,970) divided as to £8,200 for Flat 20 and £7,770 for Flat 20A This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 73.26 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in East London