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Botany Bay leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

I’m about to sell my ground floor flat in Botany Bay.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just received a yearly maintenance charge demand – Do I pay up?

The sensible thing to do is clear 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 until 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a two apartments in Botany Bay both have about 50 years remaining on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are plenty of short leases in Botany Bay. The lease is a legal document that entitles you to use the property for a prescribed time frame. As the lease shortens the value of the lease deteriorate and results in it becoming more expensive to extend the lease. This is why it is advisable to extend the lease term. It is often difficult to sell a property with a short lease because mortgage lenders less inclined to grant a loan on such properties. Lease enfranchisement can be a difficult process. We advise that you seek professional assistance from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this area

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Botany Bay. 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. It is an essential part 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).

What are your top tips when it comes to finding a Botany Bay conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

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

  • How familiar is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Botany Bay who can give a testimonial?

  • Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Botany Bay with the aim of speeding up the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Botany Bay can be reduced where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers lawyers.
    • Many landlords or Management Companies in Botany Bay levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should find out the actual amount of the charges. The management pack sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most common cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in Botany Bay.
  • Some Botany Bay leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying the yearly 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should ensure that you hold the original share certificate. Arranging a duplicate share certificate is often a lengthy formality and delays many a Botany Bay conveyancing deal. Where a new share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but you should double-check via your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is under 80 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you identify whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • Following months of negotiations we simply can't agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Botany Bay. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

    Where there is a missing freeholder or where there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant legislation it is possible to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to assess the price payable.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Botany Bay residence is 23 Beaconsfield Road in July 2013. The Tribunals decided that the amount payable was £31,203 for the freehold. This case was in relation to 2 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 70.31 years.