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Chalk Farm leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

There are only 72 years unexpired on my lease in Chalk Farm. I now wish to get lease extension but my freeholder is can not be found. What are my options?

If you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the freeholder. For most situations an enquiry agent should be helpful to carry out a search and to produce an expert document to be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor in relation to proving the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Chalk Farm.

Estate agents have just been given the go-ahead to market my 2 bed apartment in Chalk Farm.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just received a quarterly service charge invoice – Do I pay up?

It best that you 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 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a couple of flats in Chalk Farm both have in the region of 50 years left on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Chalk Farm is a wasting asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it adversely affects the salability of the property. For most buyers and mortgage companies, leases with under 75 years become less and less attractive. On a more positive 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 a residence 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 Chalk Farm conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend the lease They may agree to a smaller lump sum and an increase in the ground rent, but to shorter extension terms in return. You need to ensure that the agreed 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 property in Chalk Farm. 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 lessee and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. However, 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 long established estate agency in Chalk Farm where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales derailed as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Chalk Farm conveyancing firms. Can you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can initiate the lease extension formalities 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 kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the buyer can avoid having to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or at the same time as 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 buyer.

I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord to extend my lease without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decide on such matters? Can you recommend a Chalk Farm conveyancing firm to represent me?

in cases where there is a absentee freeholder or if there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to determine the premium.

An example of a Lease Extension case for a Chalk Farm flat is Flat 2 27 Mackeson Road in December 2012. The Tribunal assessed the value of the lease extension premium at £35,435 and rounded the figure to £35,500 This case related to 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 64.77 years.

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in Chalk Farm