Questions and Answers: Cowley leasehold conveyancing
My partner and I may need to sub-let our Cowley garden flat temporarily due to a new job. We instructed a Cowley conveyancing practice in 2002 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to seek any guidance as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?
A small minority of properties in Cowley do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience dictates 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.
I have just appointed agents to market my garden apartment in Cowley.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just had a yearly service charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?
The sensible thing to do is clear the service charge 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. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.
I've recently bought a leasehold house in Cowley. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?
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. However, 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 am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in Cowley where we see a few leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Cowley conveyancing solicitors. Please can you confirm whether the owner of a flat can start 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 kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means 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 prior to, or at the same time as 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.
What advice can you give us when it comes to appointing a Cowley conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?
When appointing a conveyancer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Cowley conveyancing practice) it is imperative that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We suggested that you talk with two or three firms including non Cowley conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be helpful:
- What volume of lease extensions has the firm carried out in Cowley in the last 12 months?
I am the registered owner of a first floor flat in Cowley. Given that I can not reach agreement with the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the sum payable for a lease extension?
Most definitely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Cowley conveyancing firm who can help.
An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Cowley premises is 164 Nestles Avenue in October 2013. The tribunal agreed with the proposed price of £20,158 for the freehold and determined that that sum is the amount to be paid into court This case was in relation to 2 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 69 years.