Dulwich leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s
Harry (my fiance) and I may need to let out our Dulwich garden flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We used a Dulwich conveyancing practice in 2004 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to get any guidance as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?
Some leases for properties in Dulwich do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord cannot unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to review 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 permission.
I've found a house that appears to meet my requirements, at a reasonable figure which is making it all the more appealing. I have since found out that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are issues buying a house with a leasehold title in Dulwich. Conveyancing advisers have not yet been appointed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in Dulwich ?
The majority of houses in Dulwich are freehold and not leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in Dulwich so you should seriously consider looking for a Dulwich conveyancing practitioner and check that they have experience in transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a leaseholder you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as requiring the landlord’spermission to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your lawyer should report to you on the legal implications.
I've recently bought a leasehold house in Dulwich. 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. However, 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 am a negotiator for a reputable estate agent office in Dulwich where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales derailed due to short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Dulwich conveyancing solicitors. Please can 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 kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser need not have 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 sale.
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 buyer.
Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Dulwich from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?
- A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Dulwich can be reduced where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start marketing the property and ask them to collate the leasehold information needed by the buyers solicitors.
- A minority of Dulwich leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain bank and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is able to meet the annual 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 lawyers.
Following months of dialogue we are unable to agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Dulwich. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?
Where there is a missing landlord or if there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the LVT to judgment on the premium.
An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Dulwich property is 60 Taymount Grange Taymount Rise in June 2012. The Tribunal determined the premium at £13,346 for a lease extension of a further 90 years This case was in relation to 1 flat. The unexpired term was 64 years.