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Recently asked questions relating to Canary Wharf leasehold conveyancing

I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in Canary Wharf. Before diving in I want to be sure as to the unexpired term of the lease.

Assuming the lease is registered - and most are in Canary Wharf - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

Looking forward to complete next month on a ground floor flat in Canary Wharf. Conveyancing lawyers assured me that they are sending me a report on Monday. What should I be looking out for?

Your report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in Canary Wharf should include some of the following:

  • You should receive a copy of the lease
  • How long the lease is You should be advised as what happens when the lease expires, and aware of the importance of not letting the lease term falling below eighty years
  • The physical extent of the premises. This will be the property itself but may incorporate a roof space or basement if applicable.
  • Does the lease require carpeting throughout thus preventing wood flooring?
  • Repair and maintenance of the flat
  • Changes to the flat (alterations and additions)
  • Whether the landlord has obligations to ensure rights of quiet enjoyment over your property and do you know what it means in practice? For a comprehensive list of information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in Canary Wharf please ask your conveyancer in advance of your conveyancing in Canary Wharf

  • I am looking at a two apartments in Canary Wharf both have about fifty years unexpired on the leases. Will this present a problem?

    There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Canary Wharf is a wasting asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The nearer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it adversely affects the salability of the premises. For most buyers and lenders, leases with less than 75 years become less and less marketable. On a more upbeat note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of property with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with Canary Wharf conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending the lease You may find he or she is happy to negotiate informally and willing to consider your offer straight off, without having to involve anyone else. This will save you time and money and it could help you reach a lower price on the lease. You need to ensure that any new terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.

    Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Canary Wharf. 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. Strange as it may seem, 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).

    Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Canary Wharf from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Canary Wharf can be bypassed where you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
    • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Canary Wharf leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord acquiescing to such changes. Should you fail to have the approvals to hand do not contact the landlord without contacting your lawyer in the first instance.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be warry about purchasing a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. 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 historic as opposed to unsettled.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should ensure that you hold the original share document. Obtaining a duplicate share certificate can be a time consuming formality and frustrates many a Canary Wharf conveyancing transaction. Where a duplicate share is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if applicable) for this as soon as possible.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but it would be advisable verify this by asking your solicitors. A buyer’s conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to where the remaining number of years is less than 80 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you identify whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • My wife and I have hit a brick wall in trying to reach an agreement for a lease extension in Canary Wharf. Can this matter be resolved via the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

    Absolutely. We can put you in touch with a Canary Wharf conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Canary Wharf residence 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 affected 3 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 101.61 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Canary Wharf