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Questions and Answers: Balham leasehold conveyancing

I am intending to rent out my leasehold flat in Balham. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask him. Is permission from the freeholder required?

The lease dictates relations between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will set out if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The rule is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Balham do not contain subletting altogether – such a provision would undoubtedly devalue the flat. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a duplicate of the tenancy agreement.

Expecting to exchange soon on a basement flat in Balham. Conveyancing lawyers inform me that they are sending me a report on Monday. What should I be looking out for?

Your report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in Balham should include some of the following:

  • You should be told what constitutes a Nuisance in the lease
  • Ground rent - how much and when you need to pay, and also know whether this will change in the future
  • An explanation as to the provision in the lease to pay service charges - with regard to both the building, and the more general rights a leaseholder has
  • Whether your lease has a provision for a sinking fund?
  • You should have a good understanding of the insurance provisions
  • Changes to the flat (alterations and additions)
  • What the implications are if you breach a clause of your lease? For details of the information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in Balham please ask your lawyer in ahead of your conveyancing in Balham

  • I've recently bought a leasehold house in Balham. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

    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 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 am employed by a long established estate agency in Balham where we have witnessed a few leasehold sales put at risk due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received conflicting advice from local Balham conveyancing firms. Could you clarify whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

    Provided that the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

    Alternatively, it may be possible 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 buyer.

    Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Balham from the perspective of expediting the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Balham can be avoided where you get in touch lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold information needed by the buyers lawyers.
    • The majority freeholders or Management Companies in Balham charge for providing management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the actual amount of the charges. The management pack can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most frequent reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Balham.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s approval? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Balham state that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such works. Where you dont have the consents to hand you should not contact the landlord without checking with your lawyer in advance.
  • Some Balham leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are financially capable of paying the annual 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 purchasers or their lawyers.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable double-check by asking your solicitors. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is under 75 years. It is therefore important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • I have had difficulty in seeking a lease extension in Balham. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

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

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Balham flat is First Floor Flat 152a Ramsden Road in June 2009. The net result of the tribunals calculation produced a premium payable of £23,975. This case affected 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 56.67 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Balham