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Acton leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only Fifty years remaining on my flat in Acton. I now wish to get lease extension but my freeholder is absent. What are my options?

If you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be lengthened by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to track down the lessor. For most situations a specialist should be useful to try and locate and prepare a report which can be used as evidence that the landlord is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Acton.

I've found a house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a reasonable price which is making it all the more appealing. I have subsequently found out that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are issues purchasing a leasehold house in Acton. Conveyancing lawyers have are about to be appointed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Acton ?

The majority of houses in Acton are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in Acton so you should seriously consider shopping around for a Acton conveyancing solicitor and check that they are used to transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want with the house. The lease will likely included provisions such as requiring the freeholder’spermission to carry out changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the estate where the property is located on an estate. Your conveyancer should advise you fully on all the issues.

I am attracted to a two maisonettes in Acton which have in the region of 50 years left on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold flat in Acton is a wasting asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it reduces the salability of the premises. For most buyers and lenders, leases with under eighty years become less and less attractive. On a more positive 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 Acton conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending 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 property in Acton. 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 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).

Having spent months of negotiations we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Acton. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

Absolutely. We can put you in touch with a Acton conveyancing firm who can help.

An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Acton property is 4 Woodhurst Road in July 2013. The Tribunals valuation for the premium to be paid in respect of the collective enfranchisement was £51,050. This case related to 2 flats. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 63.75 years.

What makes a Acton lease unmortgageable?

There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Acton. Most leases are unique and drafting errors can result in certain sections are wrong. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

  • A provision to repair 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

You will encounter a problem when selling your property if you have a defective lease as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Halifax, Skipton Building Society, and Platform Home Loans Ltd all have express 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 problematic they may refuse to provide security, forcing the purchaser to withdraw.

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in Acton