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Common questions relating to Catford leasehold conveyancing

I wish to let out my leasehold apartment in Catford. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Is permission from the freeholder required?

Even though your last Catford conveyancing solicitor is no longer available you can check your lease to check if it allows you to sublet the property. The accepted inference is that if the lease is non-specific, subletting is permitted. There may be a precondition that you are obliged to seek consent via your landlord or other appropriate person in advance of subletting. The net result is you not allowed to sublet without first obtaining consent. Such consent should not be unreasonably refused ore delayed. If the lease does not allow you to sublet you should ask your landlord if they are willing to waive this restriction.

I’m about to sell my ground floor flat in Catford.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just had a quarterly service charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should clear 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 management companies will not acknowledge the buyer unless 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've recently bought a leasehold flat in Catford. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

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 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 Catford where we see a number of flat sales jeopardised as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Catford conveyancing firms. Can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can initiate the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

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 proposed purchaser need not have to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or simultaneously with completion of the sale.

Alternatively, it may be possible 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.

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Catford from the point of view of expediting the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Catford can be bypassed if you instruct lawyers the minute you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ lawyers.
  • 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? Catford leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. If you fail to have the approvals to hand you should not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer in advance.
  • A minority of Catford 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 obtain 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 lawyers.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are settled before the property is marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is a current dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or settle 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 are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to present the dispute as over as opposed to unsettled.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but you should verify this via your solicitors. A purchaser's conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is under 80 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you identify whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I inherited a first floor flat in Catford. Given that I can not reach agreement with the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the amount due for a lease extension?

    if there is a missing freeholder or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes it is possible to make an application to the LVT to arrive at the price payable.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Catford residence is 44 Elmer Road in January 2013. The Tribunal dacied that amount to be paid by the Leaseholders for the Landlords freehold reversion was £12,951 as at the valuation date (20" September 2012).This matter was referred back to the Bromley County Court to deal with costs, fees and any other outstanding matters. This case related to 2 flats. The unexpired lease term was 74.25 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Catford