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Common questions relating to Chinatown leasehold conveyancing

My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Chinatown. Conveyancing and Clydesdale mortgage organised. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1991. The conveyancing solicitor in Chinatown who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

First contact HMLR to be sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the new freeholder. There is no need to incur the fees of a Chinatown conveyancing solicitor to do this as it can be done on-line for a few pound. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a two apartments in Chinatown both have about fifty years remaining on the leases. Will this present a problem?

A lease is a right to use the premises for a prescribed time frame. As a lease shortens the value of the lease decreases and it becomes more costly to acquire a lease extension. This is why it is advisable to increase the term of the lease. Sometimes it is difficult to sell a property with a short lease because mortgage lenders less inclined to grant a loan on properties of this type. Lease enfranchisement can be a difficult process. We advise that you get professional help from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this arena

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Chinatown. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before my ownership?

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 be sure 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).

What are your top tips when it comes to appointing a Chinatown conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

If you are instructing a solicitor for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Chinatown conveyancing practice) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We suggested that you speak with two or three firms including non Chinatown conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions might be of use:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Chinatown who can give a testimonial?

  • Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Chinatown with the purpose of speeding up the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Chinatown can be bypassed where you appoint lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold information needed by the purchasers’ solicitors.
    • Many landlords or managing agents in Chinatown charge for providing 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 accelerating the process. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most common reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Chinatown.
  • A minority of Chinatown leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is a current dispute. You may need to swallow your pride and pay any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. 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 purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as over as opposed to ongoing.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should ensure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a duplicate share certificate can be a time consuming formality and delays many a Chinatown conveyancing deal. If a duplicate share certificate is required, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if applicable) for this sooner rather than later.

  • After years of dialogue we simply can't agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Chinatown. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

    Most definitely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Chinatown conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Chinatown flat is 36 New Wanstead in August 2010. The Tribunal arrived at a valuation of the premium for the freehold of £22,359. This case affected 2 flats. The unexpired lease term was 73.92 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Chinatown