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Top Five Questions relating to Ealing leasehold conveyancing

There are only 72 years remaining on my lease in Ealing. I now want to extend my lease but my freeholder is can not be found. What options are available to me?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be extended by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to find the freeholder. On the whole a specialist should be helpful to carry out a search and to produce a report to be used as proof that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer both on investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court overseeing Ealing.

I've found a house that seems to meet my requirements, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently discovered that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns purchasing a leasehold house in Ealing. Conveyancing advisers have are about to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in Ealing are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in Ealing so you should seriously consider shopping around for a Ealing conveyancing solicitor and check that they are used to transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as requiring the freeholder’sconsent to carry out alterations. It may be necessary to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your conveyancer should appraise you on the various issues.

I am a negotiator for a long established estate agent office in Ealing where we see a few leasehold sales derailed as a result of short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Ealing conveyancing firms. Can you confirm whether the vendor of a flat can commence 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 commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the buyer 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 has to be done before, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.

An alternative approach is 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 purchaser.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Ealing from the perspective of expediting the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Ealing can be bypassed where you instruct lawyers the minute you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ lawyers.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Ealing leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord acquiescing to such alterations. If you fail to have the consents in place do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer in the first instance.
  • A minority of Ealing leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain bank and professional references. Any 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 solicitors.
  • If you have had any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved before the property is put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be warry about purchasing a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to present the dispute as over as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should make sure that you are holding the original share document. Obtaining a replacement share certificate can be a time consuming formality and delays many a Ealing home move. Where a reissued share certificate is required, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this as soon as possible.

  • Following months of correspondence we simply can't agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Ealing. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

    Most definitely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Ealing conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Ealing premises is Flat 4 38 The Mall in April 2014. the Tribunal held that the premium payable for the lease extension to be £25,451 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 68.7 years.

    In relation to leasehold conveyancing in Ealing what are the most common lease defects?

    There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Ealing. All leases are individual and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain provisions are missing. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain parts of the premises
    • A duty to insure the building
    • A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
    • Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage

    A defective lease will likely cause issues when trying to sell a property as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Lloyds TSB Bank, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, and TSB all have express 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, forcing the purchaser to pull out.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Ealing