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Recently asked questions relating to Colindale leasehold conveyancing

I have just started marketing my garden flat in Colindale.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just received a half-yearly service charge demand – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

The sensible thing to do is discharge the invoice 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.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Colindale. 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 lessee 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. 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 work for a busy estate agent office in Colindale where we have witnessed a number of leasehold sales jeopardised due to short leases. I have been given contradictory information from local Colindale conveyancing solicitors. Could you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can instigate the lease extension process for the buyer?

As long as the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means 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 has to be done before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

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.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Colindale with the aim of expediting the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Colindale can be avoided if you get in touch lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers conveyancers.
  • The majority freeholders or Management Companies in Colindale levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management pack can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The typical amount of time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most common reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Colindale.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the residence would they have required Landlord’s consent? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Colindale state that internal structural changes or addition of wooden flooring calls for a licence issued by the Landlord approving such changes. Where you dont have the consents in place do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your solicitor before hand.
  • If you have had conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be concerned about purchasing a property where a dispute is ongoing. You may need to swallow your pride and pay any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to completion of the sale. 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 details of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic as opposed to ongoing.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but you should verify this via your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is under 75 years. It is therefore essential at an as soon as possible that you identify whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • Completion in due on the sale of our £275000 flat in Colindale on Thursday in a week. The managing agents has quoted £336 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and 3 years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge such fees for a leasehold conveyance in Colindale?

    For the majority of leasehold sales in Colindale conveyancing will involve, questions about the management of a building inevitably needing to be answered directly by the freeholder or its agent, this includes :

    • Completing conveyancing due diligence enquiries
    • Where consent is required before sale in Colindale
    • Supplying insurance information
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your conveyancer will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Colindale leasehold property is £350. For Colindale conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are obliged to provide the information.

    Notwithstanding our best endeavours, we have been unsuccessful in trying to reach an agreement for a lease extension in Colindale. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

    Most certainly. We can put you in touch with a Colindale conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Colindale residence is 27B Hillside in February 2010. the resulting premium, all other aspects of the valuation having been agreed between the parties was set at £8,250 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The unexpired lease term was 70.25 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Colindale