Questions and Answers: Forest Row leasehold conveyancing
My wife and I may need to sub-let our Forest Row garden flat temporarily due to a new job. We instructed a Forest Row conveyancing firm in 2002 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to seek any advice as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?
The lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the flat owner; specifically, it will indicate if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. Most leases in Forest Row do not contain strict prohibition on subletting – such a provision would undoubtedly devalue the property. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a copy of the sublease.
Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only Fifty years unexpired on my lease in Forest Row. I now want to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What options are available to me?
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 for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be extended by the Court. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to locate the landlord. For most situations a specialist would be useful to try and locate and prepare a report which can be used as evidence that the landlord is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a solicitor both on devolving into the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court overseeing Forest Row.
My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Forest Row. Conveyancing and Birmingham Midshires mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. It included a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1997. The conveyancing practitioner in Forest Row who previously acted has now retired.What should I do?
The first thing you should do is contact HMLR to be sure that this person is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. It is not necessary to instruct a Forest Row conveyancing solicitor to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.
Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Forest Row. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?
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. However, 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).
I work for a busy estate agency in Forest Row where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local Forest Row conveyancing firms. Please can you clarify whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension process for the buyer?
Provided that the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser 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 before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.
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.
I inherited a leasehold flat in Forest Row, conveyancing formalities finalised half a dozen years ago. Can you give me give me an indication of the likely cost of a lease extension? Corresponding properties in Forest Row with a long lease are worth £246,000. The average or mid-range amount of ground rent is £45 yearly. The lease terminates on 21st October 2101
With 80 years left to run we estimate the premium for your lease extension to range between £8,600 and £9,800 plus legals.
The figure that we have given is a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we cannot give you the actual costs without more comprehensive investigations. You should not use the figures in tribunal or court proceedings. There may be other issues that need to be considered and clearly you want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. You should not move forward based on this information without first getting professional advice.