Chinatown leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s
I have recently realised that I have 68 years remaining on my lease in Chinatown. I now want to extend my lease but my landlord is missing. What options are available to me?
On the basis that 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 for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be lengthened by the Court. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have used your best endeavours to locate the landlord. In some cases an enquiry agent may be helpful to conduct investigations and prepare an expert document which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Chinatown.
I am hoping to complete next month on a basement flat in Chinatown. Conveyancing lawyers assured me that they will have a report out to me tomorrow. Are there areas in the report that I should be focusing on?
The report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in Chinatown should include some of the following:
- Details of the parties to the lease, for example these could be the leaseholder (you), head lessor, landlord
My wife and I purchased a leasehold flat in Chinatown. Conveyancing and Bank of Ireland mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1997. The conveyancing solicitor in Chinatown who acted for me is not around.What should I do?
First make enquiries of HMLR to be sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to instruct a Chinatown conveyancing practitioner to do this as it can be done on-line for a few pound. You should note that regardless, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.
Last month I purchased a leasehold property 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 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 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).
I work for a busy estate agent office in Chinatown where we see a few leasehold sales derailed as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Chinatown conveyancing solicitors. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can commence 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 commence 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 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.
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 buyer.
Having spent months of dialogue we simply can't agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Chinatown. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?
Where there is a absentee landlord or if there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to determine the sum to be paid.
An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Chinatown property is 36 New Wanstead in August 2010. The Tribunal arrived at a valuation of the premium for the freehold of £22,359. This case related to 2 flats. The unexpired lease term was 73.92 years.