Hastings leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s
I only have Sixty One years remaining on my flat in Hastings. I am keen to get lease extension but my freeholder is can not be found. What options are available to me?
If you qualify, 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 extended by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you have made all reasonable attempts to find the landlord. On the whole a specialist may be useful to carry out a search and to produce a report to be used as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer in relation to devolving into the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Hastings.
I am looking at a two apartments in Hastings both have approximately 50 years remaining on the lease term. Will this present a problem?
There are no two ways about it. A leasehold flat in Hastings is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it adversely affects the salability of the premises. For most purchasers and mortgage companies, leases with less than 75 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 property 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 property 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 Hastings 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 the agreed 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.
I've recently bought a leasehold house in Hastings. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?
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. 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 agent office in Hastings where we have experienced a number of flat sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Hastings conveyancing firms. Could you confirm whether the vendor of a flat can start the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?
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 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 prior to, 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.
In relation to leasehold conveyancing in Hastings what are the most common lease defects?
There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Hastings. All leases is drafted differently and legal mistakes in the legal wording can sometimes mean that certain clauses are erroneous. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:
- Repairing obligations to or maintain elements of the building
- A duty to insure the building
- A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
- Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall
A defective lease will likely cause issues when trying to sell a property primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Nationwide Building Society, Coventry Building Society, and Nottingham Building Society all have very detailed 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, obliging the buyer to pull out.
Hastings Conveyancing for Leasehold Flats - Examples of Questions you should consider Prior to buying
Generally speaking the cost for major works are not included within service charges, albeit that there some managing agents in Hastings ask tenants to pay into a sinking fund created for the specific intention of building a fund for major repairs or maintenance.
It is important to be aware if a new roof is being put on or some other significant cost is pending that will be shared between the leasehold owners and could well materially increase the the maintenance fees or necessitate a specific invoice.
How many years remain on the lease?