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Questions and Answers: Grays leasehold conveyancing

I would like to sublet my leasehold flat in Grays. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Do I need to ask my freeholder for permission?

Your lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will indicate if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. Most leases in Grays do not contain an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the flat. In most cases there is a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a duplicate of the sublease.

I have recently realised that I have 72 years remaining on my lease in Grays. I am keen to get lease extension but my landlord is can not be found. What should I do?

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 mean that your lease can be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to locate the landlord. On the whole a specialist should be helpful to conduct investigations and prepare a report to be used as proof that the landlord is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a solicitor both on investigating the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Grays.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Grays. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

In a situation 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. A critical element of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure 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 a negotiator for a busy estate agency in Grays where we see a few leasehold sales derailed as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Grays conveyancing firms. Can you confirm whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension formalities 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 start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the buyer can avoid having to sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

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 purchaser.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Grays with the purpose of saving time on the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Grays can be avoided where you instruct lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ representatives.
  • The majority landlords or managing agents in Grays charge for supplying management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management pack can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most frequent cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in Grays.
  • Some Grays leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, you should place the estate agents on notice 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 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should ensure that you are holding the original share certificate. Arranging a replacement share certificate is often a time consuming formality and delays many a Grays home move. If a reissued share certificate is required, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be wise to verify this via your conveyancers. 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 80 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • Despite our best efforts, we have been unsuccessful in trying to purchase the freehold in Grays. Can this matter be resolved via the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

    if there is a absentee freeholder or if there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to decide the amount due.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Grays residence 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 was in relation to 13 flats. The unexpired term was 76 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Grays