Experts for Leasehold Conveyancing in Exeter

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Exeter leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Jane (my partner) and I may need to sub-let our Exeter basement flat for a while due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Exeter conveyancing firm in 2001 but they have since shut 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?

Some leases for properties in Exeter do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord is not entitled to unreasonably withhold but, in such cases, they would need to review references. Experience dictates that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting permission.

There are only Seventy years unexpired on my lease in Exeter. I now wish to get lease extension but my landlord is missing. What are my options?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be extended by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to track down the lessor. On the whole an enquiry agent should be helpful to carry out a search and to produce a report to be used as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a solicitor in relation to proving the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court covering Exeter.

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Exeter. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

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 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).

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

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Exeter can be bypassed where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s consent? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Exeter leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or installing wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord acquiescing to such works. Should you dont have the approvals to hand you should not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in the first instance.
  • A minority of Exeter 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 financial (bank) and professional references. Any bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are able to meet the annual 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share certificate. Obtaining a replacement share certificate is often a lengthy formality and slows down many a Exeter home move. Where a reissued share certificate is needed, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (where applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but it would be wise to double-check by asking your solicitors. A buyer’s conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is less than 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • We expect to complete our sale of a £425000 apartment in Exeter in six days. The landlords agents has quoted £420 for Landlord’s certificate, building insurance schedule and previous years statements of service charge. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge exorbitant fees for a leasehold conveyance in Exeter?

    Exeter conveyancing on leasehold flats usually requires the purchaser’s lawyer sending enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is not legally bound to answer these enquiries most will be willing to assist. They may levy a reasonable administration fee for responding to enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average fee for the paperwork that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some situations it is in excess of £800. The management information fee required by the landlord must be sent together with a summary of rights and obligations in respect of administration fees, otherwise the charge is not strictly payable. In reality one has little choice but to pay whatever is requested of you if you want to complete the sale of your home.

    I own a split level flat in Exeter, conveyancing having been completed half a dozen years ago. Can you let me have an estimate of the premium that my landlord can legally expect in return for granting a renewal of my lease? Comparable properties in Exeter with a long lease are worth £209,000. The ground rent is £65 invoiced every year. The lease terminates on 21st October 2099

    With just 78 years remaining on your lease the likely cost is going to be between £11,400 and £13,200 as well as legals.

    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 without more detailed investigations. Do not use the figures in tribunal or court proceedings. There are no doubt other concerns that need to be considered and you obviously should be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. You should not move forward placing reliance on this information without first getting professional advice.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Exeter