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Collier Row leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

My fiance and I may need to rent out our Collier Row basement flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We instructed a Collier Row conveyancing firm in 2004 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to get any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

A small minority of properties in Collier Row do contain a provision to say that subletting is only allowed with permission. The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience suggests that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting consent.

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only Sixty One years remaining on my lease in Collier Row. I am keen to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What should I do?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be extended by the Court. You will be obliged to prove that you have used your best endeavours to track down the landlord. In some cases a specialist may be helpful to carry out a search and prepare a report to be accepted by the court as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer both on investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Collier Row.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Collier Row. Do I have any liability for 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. 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).

I am a negotiator for a long established estate agent office in Collier Row where we have experienced a few leasehold sales derailed due to short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Collier Row conveyancing firms. Could you shed some light as to 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 owned the lease 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 proposed purchaser can avoid having to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

Alternatively, it may be possible 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.

I am the leaseholder of a ground flat in Collier Row. In the absence of agreement between myself and the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the sum due for the purchase of the freehold?

in cases where there is a absentee landlord or where there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant legislation you can apply to the LVT to determine the price payable.

An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Collier Row premises is 37 Lodge Court High Street in November 2013. the decision of the LVT was that the premium to be paid for the new lease was £25,559 This case related to 1 flat. The unexpired term was 57.5 years.

In relation to leasehold conveyancing in Collier Row what are the most common lease problems?

There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Collier Row. Most leases are individual and drafting errors can result in certain provisions are erroneous. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

  • Repairing obligations to or maintain parts of the property
  • A duty to insure the building
  • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
  • Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall

A defective lease can cause problems when trying to sell a property primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Nationwide Building Society, The Mortgage Works, and Barclays Direct all have very detailed requirements when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease is problematic they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the purchaser to withdraw.