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Questions and Answers: Blackwall leasehold conveyancing

I have recently realised that I have 62 years unexpired on my lease in Blackwall. I am keen to get lease extension but my freeholder is can not be found. 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 for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be extended by the Court. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to locate the lessor. In some cases an enquiry agent may be helpful to try and locate and to produce an expert document to be used as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a conveyancer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Blackwall.

I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that appears to tick a lot of boxes, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have since been informed that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Blackwall. Conveyancing solicitors have are about to be appointed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in Blackwall ?

Most houses in Blackwall are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can help the conveyancing process. it is apparent that you are purchasing in Blackwall so you should seriously consider shopping around for a Blackwall conveyancing practitioner and be sure that they have experience in dealing with leasehold houses. First you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions for example obtaining the landlord’sconsent to carry out changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your solicitor will report to you on the legal implications.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Blackwall. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?

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. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. A critical element 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 employed by a reputable estate agency in Blackwall where we have witnessed a number of leasehold sales derailed as a result of short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Blackwall conveyancing firms. Could you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can initiate 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 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 wait 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 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 buyer.

Can you offer any advice when it comes to finding a Blackwall conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a conveyancer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Blackwall conveyancing firm) it is imperative that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We advise that you speak with two or three firms including non Blackwall conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be useful:

  • What volume of lease extensions has the firm conducted in Blackwall in the last 12 months?
  • What are the charges for lease extension conveyancing?

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord to extend my lease without success. Can a leaseholder apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal? Can you recommend a Blackwall conveyancing firm to act on my behalf?

    Where there is a absentee freeholder or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to make a decision on the sum to be paid.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Blackwall premises is 12, 14 & 16 Hull Close in May 2010. the Tribunal determined that the premium payable for the acquisition of the freehold to the subject premises was the sum of £18,300 This case was in relation to 3 flats. The remaining number of years on the lease was 101.61 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Blackwall