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Handsworth leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

I am intending to rent out my leasehold flat in Handsworth. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask him. Do I need to ask my freeholder for permission?

Your lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; specifically, it will indicate if subletting is banned, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. Most leases in Handsworth do not contain subletting altogether – such a provision would adversely affect the market value the flat. Instead, there is usually a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a duplicate of the sublease.

There are only 72 years remaining on my lease in Handsworth. I now want to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What are my options?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, 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 mean that your lease can be granted an extra 90 years by the Court. You will be obliged to prove that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the landlord. On the whole an enquiry agent should be useful to try and locate and to produce a report which can be used as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer both on investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Handsworth.

I have just appointed agents to market my garden flat in Handsworth.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just had a quarterly service charge demand – Do I pay up?

It best that you clear the invoice as normal because all ground rent and service charges will be apportioned on completion, so you will be reimbursed by the buyer for the period running from after the completion date to the next payment date. Most managing agents will not acknowledge the buyer unless the service charges have been paid and are up to date so it is important for both buyer and seller for the seller to show that they are up to date. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

Back In 2001, I bought a leasehold house in Handsworth. Conveyancing and Santander mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1996. The conveyancing practitioner in Handsworth who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

First make enquiries of HMLR to make sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to instruct a Handsworth conveyancing practitioner to do this as it can be done on-line for less than a fiver. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Handsworth. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before 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. However, 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 own a 2 bed flat in Handsworth, conveyancing having been completed 2007. How much will my lease extension cost? Equivalent flats in Handsworth with an extended lease are worth £256,000. The average or mid-range amount of ground rent is £55 invoiced every year. The lease ends on 21st October 2097

You have 76 years left to run we estimate the price of your lease extension to be between £8,600 and £9,800 plus professional fees.

The figure above a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we are not able to supply a more accurate figure in the absence of detailed due diligence. Do not use this information in a Notice of Claim or as an informal offer. There are no doubt additional concerns that need to be considered and you obviously should be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Neither should you move forward placing reliance on this information without first getting professional advice.

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Lease Extensions in Handsworth