Guaranteed fixed fees for Leasehold Conveyancing in Brent Cross

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Top Five Questions relating to Brent Cross leasehold conveyancing

My husband and I may need to sub-let our Brent Cross ground floor flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We used a Brent Cross conveyancing firm in 2001 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to seek any advice as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

A small minority of properties in Brent Cross do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold but, in such cases, they would need to review references. Experience suggests that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting consent.

I have recently realised that I have 68 years left on my flat in Brent Cross. I am keen to get lease extension but my freeholder is absent. What options are available to me?

If you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply 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 demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the lessor. On the whole an enquiry agent should be helpful to conduct investigations and prepare a report which can be accepted by the court as proof that the freeholder can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court overseeing Brent Cross.

I work for a long established estate agency in Brent Cross where we see a number of leasehold sales put at risk as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received conflicting advice from local Brent Cross conveyancing firms. Can you clarify whether the owner of a flat can instigate the lease extension process for the buyer?

As long as the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to commence 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 has to be done prior to, or simultaneously with 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.

What advice can you give us when it comes to choosing a Brent Cross conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a solicitor for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Brent Cross conveyancing practice) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We recommend that you talk with two or three firms including non Brent Cross conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be of use:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Brent Cross who can give a testimonial?

  • Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Brent Cross from the point of view of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Brent Cross can be avoided if you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start marketing the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ conveyancers.
    • Some Brent Cross leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is a current dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to pay any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as over as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share document. Arranging a replacement share certificate is often a lengthy formality and delays many a Brent Cross home move. If a duplicate share certificate is necessary, do contact the company director and secretary or managing agents (where relevant) for this as soon as possible.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but you should double-check via your solicitors. A purchaser's conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is less than 75 years. It is therefore important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord to extend my lease without getting anywhere. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decide on such matters? Can you recommend a Brent Cross conveyancing firm to act on my behalf?

    in cases where there is a missing freeholder or where there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant statutes it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to assess the sum to be paid.

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Brent Cross residence is First Floor Flat 61 Wilberforce Road in March 2014. The premium payable was £10,130 and the case was remitted back to the Willesden County Court to effect the Vesting Order (Claim No 3W103100). This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 71 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Brent Cross