Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Grays:

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Questions and Answers: Grays leasehold conveyancing

My wife and I may need to let out our Grays garden flat for a while due to a new job. We used a Grays conveyancing firm in 2002 but they have since shut and we did not think at the time get any advice as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

Notwithstanding that your last Grays conveyancing lawyer is no longer around you can check your lease to check if it allows you to sublet the premises. The rule is that if the deeds are non-specific, subletting is permitted. There may be a precondition that you must obtain permission via your landlord or some other party before subletting. This means you not allowed to sublet in the absence of prior consent. Such consent is not allowed to be unreasonably refused ore delayed. If the lease prohibits you from subletting the property you should ask your landlord if they are willing to waive this restriction.

Back In 2005, I bought a leasehold house in Grays. Conveyancing and The Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage are in place. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the reversionary interest in the property. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1994. The conveyancing practitioner in Grays who previously acted has long since retired.Any advice?

The first thing you should do is contact HMLR to be sure that the individual purporting to own the freehold is in fact the new freeholder. There is no need to incur the fees of a Grays conveyancing solicitor to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for £3. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Grays. 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 lessee 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. It is an essential part 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 long established estate agency in Grays where we have experienced a number of flat sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Grays conveyancing firms. Please can you shed some light as to whether the owner 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. This means that the proposed purchaser need not have to sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. 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 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.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Grays from the perspective of saving time on the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Grays can be bypassed if you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers lawyers.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s consent? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Grays leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring necessitate a licence from the Landlord consenting to such changes. Should you dont have the consents to hand do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer first.
  • A minority of Grays leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are financially capable of paying 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved before the property is put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be concerned about purchasing a flat where there is an ongoing dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to present the dispute as historic rather than unresolved.
  • You believe that you know the number of years left on your lease but it would be advisable verify this via your lawyers. A purchaser's lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to where the lease term is below 80 years. It is therefore essential at an as soon as possible that you identify whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I inherited a ground floor flat in Grays. In the absence of agreement between myself and the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the premium payable for a lease extension?

    if there is a absentee landlord or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to judgment on the sum to be paid.

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Grays flat is Various @ Colombus Square in January 2012. the Tribunal calculated the premiums to be paid for new leases for each of the flats in Mariners Walk to be £3822 and the premium to be paid for the new lease of 2 Knights Court to be £4439. This case affected 13 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 76 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Grays