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Castelnau leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

My wife and I may need to rent out our Castelnau ground floor flat temporarily due to a career opportunity. We used a Castelnau conveyancing practice in 2004 but they have since shut and we did not think at the time seek any advice as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?

The lease dictates relations between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; specifically, it will say if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. The majority of leases in Castelnau do not contain strict prohibition on subletting – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the flat. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a duplicate of the tenancy agreement.

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only 68 years remaining on my flat in Castelnau. I am keen to extend my lease but my landlord is absent. What are my options?

If you qualify, 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 extended by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you have done all that could be expected to find the landlord. On the whole an enquiry agent should be useful to try and locate and prepare an expert document which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the landlord can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a conveyancer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Castelnau.

I have just started marketing my garden flat in Castelnau.Conveyancing has not commenced but I have just had a half-yearly maintenance charge invoice – Do I pay up?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should discharge the service charge 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. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that appears to tick a lot of boxes, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have since been informed that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are issues buying a leasehold house in Castelnau. Conveyancing advisers have are about to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

The majority of houses in Castelnau are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are purchasing in Castelnau in which case you should be looking for a Castelnau conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a leaseholder you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions for example obtaining the landlord’spermission to conduct alterations. It may be necessary to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the house is located on an estate. Your solicitor will appraise you on the various issues.

I am a negotiator for a reputable estate agency in Castelnau where we see a few flat sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local Castelnau conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension process for the buyer?

Provided that the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to start 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 simultaneously with 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 purchaser.

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

in cases where there is a absentee freeholder or where there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to calculate the price payable.

An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Castelnau residence is 19 Crisp Road in June 2009. Following a vesting order (Under section 26 of the Leasehold Reform,Housing and Urban Development Act 1993) The tribunal determined that the premium payable for the acquisition of the freehold was £33,756,apportioned as to£12,285 for the lower at and £21,471for the upper fat. This case related to 2 flats. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 68.32 years.