Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Eastbourne:

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Frequently asked questions relating to Eastbourne leasehold conveyancing

Frank (my husband) and I may need to sub-let our Eastbourne basement flat for a while due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Eastbourne conveyancing firm in 2002 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to seek any advice as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?

A lease governs the relationship between the landlord and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will set out if subletting is not allowed, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The rule is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Eastbourne do not contain an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the flat. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a duplicate of the tenancy agreement.

There are only Seventy years unexpired on my flat in Eastbourne. I now want to extend my lease but my freeholder is missing. What are my options?

On the basis that you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be lengthened by the magistrate. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to track down the landlord. In some cases an enquiry agent would be useful to try and locate and to produce an expert document which can be used as proof that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor both on proving the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court overseeing Eastbourne.

I today plan to offer on a house that appears to meet my requirements, at a reasonable price which is making it more attractive. I have since found out that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns purchasing a house with a leasehold title in Eastbourne. Conveyancing lawyers have are about to be appointed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in Eastbourne ?

Most houses in Eastbourne are freehold and not leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in Eastbourne in which case you should be looking for a Eastbourne conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions such as requiring the freeholder’spermission to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the upkeep of the estate where the property is part of an estate. Your conveyancer will report to you on the legal implications.

I am employed by a long established estate agent office in Eastbourne where we have witnessed a few flat sales derailed as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Eastbourne conveyancing firms. Could you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can instigate the lease extension process 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 kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the buyer need not have 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 prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

Alternatively, it may be possible 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 purchaser.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Eastbourne with the purpose of saving time on the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Eastbourne can be bypassed if you appoint lawyers the minute you market your property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ solicitors.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Eastbourne state that internal structural alterations or installing wooden flooring calls for a licence issued by the Landlord approving such alterations. If you fail to have the consents in place do not contact the landlord without contacting your solicitor first.
  • A minority of Eastbourne leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. Any bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are able to meet the yearly service charge and the actual amount of the service charge should be quoted in the bank’s letter. You will therefore need to provide your estate agents with the actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved before the property is put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a flat where a dispute is unresolved. You will have to accept that you will have to pay any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as over as opposed to ongoing.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the Management Company, you should ensure that you hold the original share document. Organising a new share certificate can be a lengthy process and delays many a Eastbourne home move. If a new share certificate is necessary, do contact the company director and secretary or managing agents (if applicable) for this as soon as possible.

  • I purchased a ground floor flat in Eastbourne, conveyancing having been completed half a dozen years ago. Can you work out an approximate cost of a lease extension? Equivalent flats in Eastbourne with an extended lease are worth £200,000. The ground rent is £50 per annum. The lease ceases on 21st October 2085

    With just 63 years unexpired we estimate the premium for your lease extension to be between £16,200 and £18,600 as well as plus your own and the landlord's "reasonable" professional fees.

    The figure that we have given is a general guide to costs for extending a lease, but we are not able to provide the actual costs without more comprehensive due diligence. You should not use the figures in tribunal or court proceedings. There may be additional issues that need to be considered and clearly you want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. You should not take any other action placing reliance on this information before getting professional advice.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Eastbourne