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Questions and Answers: Henlow leasehold conveyancing

I have recently realised that I have Seventy years left on my lease in Henlow. I now wish to get lease extension but my freeholder is absent. 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. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to track down the freeholder. On the whole an enquiry agent should be useful to try and locate and to produce an expert document which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer in relation to investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Henlow.

I've found a house that appears to be perfect, at a reasonable figure which is making it more attractive. I have since discovered that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are issues buying a leasehold house in Henlow. Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Henlow ?

The majority of houses in Henlow are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in Henlow in which case you should be shopping around for a Henlow conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in advising on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a lessee you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as obtaining the landlord’spermission to conduct changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the property is part of an estate. Your conveyancer will appraise you on the various issues.

I've recently bought a leasehold property in Henlow. 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. 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).

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Henlow from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Henlow can be avoided if you appoint lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Henlow state that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring necessitate a licence from the Landlord consenting to such works. Should you fail to have the paperwork to hand do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your solicitor before hand.
  • A minority of Henlow leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is 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 buyers or their lawyers.
  • If you have had conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are settled before the property is put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and pay any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to present the dispute as historic as opposed to ongoing.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should make sure that you hold the original share document. Obtaining a replacement share certificate can be a lengthy process and slows down many a Henlow home move. Where a reissued share is necessary, do contact the company director and secretary or managing agents (where applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.

  • We expect to complete the sale of our £250000 garden flat in Henlow on Wednesday in a week. The freeholder has quoted £420 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and previous years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge an administration fee for a flat conveyance in Henlow?

    For most leasehold sales in Henlow conveyancing will involve, queries regarding the management of a building inevitably needing to be answered directly by the freeholder or its agent, this includes :

    • Addressing pre-exchange questions
    • Where consent is required before sale in Henlow
    • Supplying insurance information
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your solicitor will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Henlow leasehold property is £350. For Henlow conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are required to provide the information.

    Henlow Conveyancing for Leasehold Flats - Examples of Queries before Purchasing

      It would be wise to investigate if there are any onerous restrictions in the lease. By way of example it is fairly common in Henlow leases that pets are not allowed in in a block in Henlow. If you like the flatin Henlow yet your cat can’t make the move with you then you will be faced hard decision. It is important to be aware whether fixing the lift or some other significant cost is due shortly that will be shared between the leasehold owners and could well dramatically increase the the service fees or result in a specific payment. How much is the maintenance charge and ground rent on the property?

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Henlow