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Downe leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

I am in need of some leasehold conveyancing in Downe. Before diving in I require certainty as to the unexpired term of the lease.

If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and almost all are in Downe - 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've found a house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have just found out that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I would have thought that there are issues purchasing a leasehold house in Downe. Conveyancing solicitors have not yet been instructed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in Downe ?

Most houses in Downe are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can help the conveyancing process. We note that you are purchasing in Downe so you should seriously consider shopping around for a Downe conveyancing practitioner and check that they have experience in transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. Being a leaseholder 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 house is part of an estate. Your conveyancer should report to you on the legal implications.

I am looking at a couple of apartments in Downe both have approximately fifty years unexpired on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold apartment in Downe is a deteriorating asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The closer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it adversely affects the salability of the property. For most purchasers and mortgage companies, leases with under eighty years become less and less marketable. 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 a residence 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 Downe 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 You may find he or she is happy to negotiate informally and willing to consider your offer straight off, without having to involve anyone else. This will save you time and money and it could help you reach a lower price on the lease. 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.

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Downe with the aim of expediting the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Downe can be avoided if you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers lawyers.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s approval? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Downe leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or installing wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord approving such alterations. Should you dont have the approvals in place you should not contact the landlord without contacting your lawyer before hand.
  • A minority of Downe leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. Any bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is able to meet 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If you have had conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are settled before the property is marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is a current dispute. 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 present the dispute as over as opposed to unsettled.
  • You believe that you know the number of years left on your lease but it would be advisable double-check by asking your lawyers. A buyer’s lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is below 80 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete the disposal of our £300000 apartment in Downe on Wednesday in a week. The freeholder has quoted £324 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and 3 years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge exorbitant fees for a flat conveyance in Downe?

    For the majority of leasehold sales in Downe 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 pre-exchange enquiries
    • Where consent is required before sale in Downe
    • Copies of the building insurance and schedule
    • 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 Downe leasehold property is £350. For Downe 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 supply answers.

    I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord to extend my lease without any joy. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decide on such matters? Can you recommend a Downe conveyancing firm to represent me?

    You certainly can. We are happy to put you in touch with a Downe conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Downe property is 1 Southlands Court Southlands Road in September 2013. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal determined that the premium to be paid by the tenant on the grant of a new lease, in accordance with section 56 and Schedule 13 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 was £30,541 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 50.57 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Downe