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Brockley leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Harry (my fiance) and I may need to sub-let our Brockley ground floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Brockley conveyancing firm in 2004 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to get any advice as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

Notwithstanding that your last Brockley conveyancing solicitor is not around you can check your lease to see if it allows you to sublet the property. The rule is that if the deeds are silent, subletting is permitted. Quite often there is a prerequisite that you need to seek permission via your landlord or other appropriate person in advance of subletting. This means that you cannot sublet in the absence of first obtaining consent. The consent should not be unreasonably turned down. If your lease prohibits you from subletting the property you will need to ask your landlord if they are willing to waive this restriction.

Estate agents have just been given the go-ahead to market my 2 bed apartment in Brockley.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just had a yearly maintenance charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

It best that you 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 management companies 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 today plan to offer on a house that seems to meet my requirements, at a reasonable figure which is making it more attractive. I have just discovered that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Brockley. Conveyancing lawyers have are about to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

The majority of houses in Brockley are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in Brockley in which case you should be shopping around for a Brockley conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in dealing with leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a leaseholder you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want with the house. The lease will likely included provisions for example requiring the landlord’spermission to conduct changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is part of an estate. Your lawyer will appraise you on the various issues.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Brockley. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to 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. 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).

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

When appointing a property lawyer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Brockley conveyancing firm) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you speak with two or three firms including non Brockley conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be of use:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • What volume of lease extensions have they conducted in Brockley in the last 12 months?

  • Despite our best efforts, we have been unsuccessful in trying to purchase the freehold in Brockley. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

    if there is a absentee landlord or if there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to decide the premium.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Brockley premises is Flat b 14 Kemble Road in May 2014. The Tribunal assessed the value of the premium payable for the lease extension to be £9,761 This case related to 1 flat.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Brockley