Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Clapham:

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Questions and Answers: Clapham leasehold conveyancing

Having had my offer accepted I require leasehold conveyancing in Clapham. Before I get started I want to be sure as to the remaining lease term.

Assuming the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in Clapham - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

I today plan to offer on a house that seems to be perfect, at a reasonable price which is making it all the more appealing. I have just discovered that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Clapham. Conveyancing lawyers have are about to be appointed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in Clapham are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in Clapham in which case you should be shopping around for a Clapham conveyancing practitioner and be sure that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. Being a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions such as obtaining the freeholder’spermission to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your solicitor will appraise you on the various issues.

I am looking at a couple of apartments in Clapham which have about fifty years remaining on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold flat in Clapham is a wasting asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it adversely affects the value of the property. The majority of buyers and banks, leases with less than eighty years become less and less attractive. On a more upbeat 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 premises 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 Clapham conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending 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 any new 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.

I am employed by a long established estate agency in Clapham where we see a few leasehold sales derailed due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Clapham conveyancing firms. Please can you confirm whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

As long as 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 has to be done before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

Alternatively, it may be possible to extend the lease informally by agreement with the landlord 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 Clapham with the purpose of expediting the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Clapham can be bypassed if you appoint lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to collate the leasehold information needed by the purchasers’ conveyancers.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Clapham state that internal structural changes or installing wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. Should you dont have the approvals to hand do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in advance.
  • A minority of Clapham leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are financially capable of paying the yearly 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 you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are settled before the property is put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is a current dispute. You may have to bite the bullet 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 prior to 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 better to present the dispute as over as opposed to ongoing.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but you should verify this by asking your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is less than 75 years. It is therefore essential at an early stage that you identify whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your home on the market for sale.

  • I am the leaseholder of a first floor flat in Clapham. Given that I can not reach agreement with the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the amount payable for the purchase of the freehold?

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

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Clapham flat is 23 Chelsham Road in May 2013. the Tribunal found that the sum of £13,870.00 was payable for the freehold following a vestig order having been granted by Swansea County Court dated 1st March 2013 This case was in relation to 3 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 99 years.