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Recently asked questions relating to Cambridge Heath leasehold conveyancing

My husband and I may need to sub-let our Cambridge Heath 1st floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We instructed a Cambridge Heath conveyancing practice in 2004 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to seek any advice as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

Your lease dictates the relationship between the landlord and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will set out if subletting is not allowed, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. Most leases in Cambridge Heath do not prevent strict prohibition on subletting – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the property. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a duplicate of the tenancy agreement.

I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Cambridge Heath. Do I have any liability for 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. Strange as it may seem, 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 work for a long established estate agent office in Cambridge Heath where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales put at risk as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Cambridge Heath conveyancing firms. Please can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension formalities 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. The benefit of this is that the buyer need not have to sit tight for 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 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 buyer.

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Cambridge Heath with the aim of expediting the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Cambridge Heath can be avoided if you get in touch lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ lawyers.
  • Many landlords or managing agents in Cambridge Heath levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The typical amount of time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most common reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Cambridge Heath.
  • Some Cambridge Heath leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. Any 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 purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should make sure that you have the original share document. Arranging a duplicate share certificate is often a lengthy process and frustrates many a Cambridge Heath home move. Where a duplicate share is necessary, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where relevant) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but it would be wise to double-check by asking your solicitors. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your home on the market for sale.

  • Our conveyancer has advised that he intends to complete and exchange simultaneously on the sale of our £250000 apartment in Cambridge Heath next week. The freeholder has quoted £396 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and 3 years statements of service charge. Is the landlord entitled to charge an administration fee for a leasehold conveyance in Cambridge Heath?

    Cambridge Heath conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes nine out of ten times involves administration charges invoiced by landlords agents :

    • Answering pre-contract questions
    • Where consent is required before sale in Cambridge Heath
    • Supplying insurance information
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your solicitor will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Cambridge Heath leasehold property is £350. For Cambridge Heath conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are obliged to provide answers.

    I have given up trying to purchase the freehold in Cambridge Heath. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

    in cases where there is a missing landlord or if there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the LVT to make a decision on the amount due.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Cambridge Heath flat is 26 Rhondda Grove in June 2009. The net price payable by the leaseholders as determined by the Tribunal was £3,015.13. This comprised £11,300 premium for the reversion less £8,284.87 costs as ordered by the County Court.