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Little Venice leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Helen (my wife) and I may need to rent out our Little Venice ground floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Little Venice conveyancing practice in 2001 but they have closed and we did not think at the time get any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

Your lease governs relations between the freeholder and you the flat owner; in particular, it will set out if subletting is not allowed, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. Most leases in Little Venice 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 Sixty One years remaining on my lease in Little Venice. I now wish to get lease extension but my freeholder is absent. What are my options?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply 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 Court. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to track down the freeholder. In some cases a specialist should be helpful to conduct investigations and to produce a report which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor both on investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court overseeing Little Venice.

I have just started marketing my garden flat in Little Venice.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just received a half-yearly service charge invoice – what should I do?

The sensible thing to do is pay 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.

My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Little Venice. Conveyancing and Barclays Direct mortgage went though with no issue. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1995. The conveyancing practitioner in Little Venice who acted for me is not around.Do I pay?

First contact the Land Registry to be sure that this person is in fact the new freeholder. You do not need to incur the fees of a Little Venice conveyancing solicitor to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for £3. You should note 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.

What advice can you give us when it comes to choosing a Little Venice conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

If you are instructing a property lawyer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Little Venice conveyancing practice) it is most important that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We suggested that you talk with two or three firms including non Little Venice conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be useful:

  • How experienced is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • If they are not ALEP accredited then why not?

  • I bought a 1st floor flat in Little Venice, conveyancing having been completed 2001. Can you let me have an estimated range of the fair premium for a lease extension? Comparable flats in Little Venice with a long lease are worth £250,000. The ground rent is £50 per annum. The lease finishes on 21st October 2095

    You have 74 years left to run the likely cost is going to range between £8,600 and £9,800 plus costs.

    The figure that we have given is a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we cannot give you the actual costs in the absence of comprehensive due diligence. You should not use this information in tribunal or court proceedings. There are no doubt additional concerns that need to be considered and you obviously want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. You should not take any other action placing reliance on this information before getting professional advice.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Little Venice