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Bermondsey leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

I wish to sublet my leasehold flat in Bermondsey. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Do I need to ask my freeholder for their consent?

Even though your previous Bermondsey conveyancing lawyer is not around you can check your lease to see if it allows you to sublet the premises. The rule is that if the deeds are silent, subletting is allowed. Quite often there is a prerequisite that you need to seek permission via your landlord or other appropriate person prior to subletting. The net result is that you cannot sublet in the absence of prior permission. Such consent must not not be unreasonably refused ore delayed. If your lease does not allow you to sublet you will need to ask your landlord for their consent.

I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great price which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently discovered that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are issues buying a house with a leasehold title in Bermondsey. Conveyancing advisers have not yet been instructed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in Bermondsey are freehold and not leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are purchasing in Bermondsey so you should seriously consider looking for a Bermondsey conveyancing practitioner and be sure that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want with the house. The lease will likely included provisions such as obtaining the landlord’sconsent to conduct alterations. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the estate where the house is located on an estate. Your lawyer should advise you fully on all the issues.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Bermondsey. 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 owner 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. 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).

I am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in Bermondsey where we see a number of flat sales derailed due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received contradictory information from local Bermondsey conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

Provided that the seller has been the owner 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 need not have to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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.

What are your top tips when it comes to choosing a Bermondsey conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

When appointing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Bermondsey conveyancing firm) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We advise that you speak with two or three firms including non Bermondsey 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:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Bermondsey who can give a testimonial?

  • Following months of dialogue we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Bermondsey. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

    Most definitely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Bermondsey conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Bermondsey residence is 1-41 Royal Tower Lodge 40 Cartwright Street in April 2013. the tribunal adding the agreed value of capitalised ground rents and the reversion the price to be paid for the freehold was £1,187,000 This case related to 41 flats. The unexpired term was 107 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Bermondsey