Questions and Answers: Gamlingay leasehold conveyancing
My partner and I may need to sub-let our Gamlingay ground floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Gamlingay conveyancing firm in 2003 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to get any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?
A small minority of properties in Gamlingay do contain a provision to say that subletting is only allowed with permission. The landlord is not entitled to unreasonably refuse 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.
I am attracted to a couple of flats in Gamlingay both have about fifty years remaining on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?
There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Gamlingay is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it adversely affects the marketability of the premises. For most purchasers and lenders, leases with under eighty years become less and less attractive. On a more upbeat note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of a residence with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with Gamlingay conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend the lease They may agree to a smaller lump sum and an increase in the ground rent, but to shorter extension terms in return. You need to ensure that any new terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.
Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Gamlingay. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?
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. 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 am employed by a busy estate agency in Gamlingay where we have experienced a few flat sales jeopardised due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Gamlingay conveyancing solicitors. Please can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?
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 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 sale.
Alternatively, it may be possible 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 buyer.
Are there common deficiencies that you see in leases for Gamlingay properties?
Leasehold conveyancing in Gamlingay is not unique. Most leases is drafted differently and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain sections are wrong. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:
- Repairing obligations to or maintain elements of the premises
- Insurance obligations
- Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
- Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage
A defective lease will likely cause problems when trying to sell a property as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. HSBC Bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and Alliance & Leicester all have express conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. Where a lender has been advised by their lawyers that the lease is defective they may refuse to grant the mortgage, forcing the purchaser to pull out.
Leasehold Conveyancing in Gamlingay - Sample of Questions you should consider Prior to Purchasing
How many of the leaseholders are in arrears for their maintenance charge payments?
Does the lease include onerous restrictions?
Does the lease have in excess of 90 years left?