Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Charing Cross:

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Recently asked questions relating to Charing Cross leasehold conveyancing

Harry (my fiance) and I may need to let out our Charing Cross garden flat for a while due to taking a sabbatical. We instructed a Charing Cross conveyancing practice in 2003 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to seek any advice as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?

Your lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the flat owner; in particular, it will indicate if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. Most leases in Charing Cross do not contain strict prohibition on subletting – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the flat. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a duplicate of the sublease.

I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Charing Cross. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before 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. However, 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 employed by a reputable estate agency in Charing Cross where we have witnessed a number of flat sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Charing Cross conveyancing firms. Please can you clarify whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension process 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 commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the proposed purchaser need not have to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.

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.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Charing Cross from the point of view of saving time on the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Charing Cross can be avoided where you appoint lawyers the minute you market your property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers conveyancers.
  • The majority landlords or managing agents in Charing Cross levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The typical amount of time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most common cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in Charing Cross.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s consent? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Charing Cross state that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. Where you fail to have the consents in place do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your solicitor in the first instance.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share certificate. Arranging a new share certificate is often a lengthy process and frustrates many a Charing Cross conveyancing deal. Where a duplicate share certificate is necessary, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but it would be wise to double-check via your solicitors. A buyer’s lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is less than 80 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you identify whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • 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 Charing Cross conveyancing firm to assist?

    Where there is a absentee landlord or where there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to arrive at the amount due.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement matter before the tribunal for a Charing Cross property is 20 Avonwick Road in July 2013. The Tribunal was dealing with an application under Section 26 of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 for a determination of the freehold value of the property. It was concluded that the price to be paid was Fifteen Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy (£15,970) divided as to £8,200 for Flat 20 and £7,770 for Flat 20A This case related to 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 73.26 years.

    Are there common problems that you see in leases for Charing Cross properties?

    Leasehold conveyancing in Charing Cross is not unique. Most leases is drafted differently and drafting errors can result in certain provisions are missing. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain elements of the property
    • A duty to insure the building
    • A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
    • Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage

    You will encounter a problem when selling your property if you have a defective lease as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Barclays , Leeds Building Society, and Aldermore all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. Where a lender has been advised by their lawyers that the lease is problematic they may refuse to grant the mortgage, forcing the buyer to pull out.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Charing Cross