Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Castelnau:

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Castelnau leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

My wife and I purchased a leasehold flat in Castelnau. Conveyancing and Alliance & Leicester mortgage went though with no issue. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1995. The conveyancing practitioner in Castelnau who acted for me is not around.Any advice?

The first thing you should do is contact HMLR to make sure that the individual purporting to own the freehold is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to incur the fees of a Castelnau conveyancing solicitor to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for £3. Rest assured that regardless, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Castelnau. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to completion of my purchase?

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 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).

I am a negotiator for a busy estate agency in Castelnau where we have witnessed a few leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Castelnau conveyancing firms. Could you clarify whether the vendor 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 kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means 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 needs to be completed before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

Alternatively, it may be possible to extend the lease informally by agreement with the landlord 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 appointing a Castelnau conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

If you are instructing a conveyancer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Castelnau conveyancing firm) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We advise that you talk with two or three firms including non Castelnau conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be helpful:

  • How familiar is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Castelnau who can give a testimonial?

  • Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Castelnau with the intention of expediting the sale process?

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Castelnau can be reduced if you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ solicitors.
    • Many landlords or managing agents in Castelnau levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most usual reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Castelnau.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Castelnau leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or addition of wooden flooring calls for a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such changes. Should you fail to have the approvals in place you should not communicate with the landlord without checking with your conveyancer first.
  • A minority of Castelnau leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should place the estate agents on notice 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved before the property is put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a property where there is a current dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and pay any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to present the dispute as historic as opposed to unsettled.

  • After years of dialogue we cannot 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?

    You certainly can. We can put you in touch with a Castelnau conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision 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 remaining number of years on the lease was 68.32 years.