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Earls Court leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Back In 2007, I bought a leasehold house in Earls Court. Conveyancing and Clydesdale mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone saying they have taken over the reversionary interest in the property. It included a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1992. The conveyancing practitioner in Earls Court who acted for me is not around.Any advice?

First make enquiries of the Land Registry to make sure that this person is indeed the new freeholder. You do not need to incur the fees of a Earls Court conveyancing lawyer to do this as it can be done on-line for £3. You should note that regardless, even if this is the legitimate landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I am attracted to a two flats in Earls Court both have in the region of 50 years remaining on the lease term. Will this present a problem?

A lease is a legal document that entitles you to use the premises for a period of time. As a lease shortens the value of the lease reduces and it becomes more expensive to extend the lease. For this reason it is generally wise to extend the lease term. Sometimes it is difficult to sell a property with a short lease because mortgage companies less inclined to grant a loan on such properties. Lease extension can be a protracted process. We advise that you get professional help from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this arena

I am employed by a reputable estate agency in Earls Court where we see a few leasehold sales put at risk due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received conflicting advice from local Earls Court conveyancing firms. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can start the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

Provided that 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 buyer need not have to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.

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 Earls Court from the point of view of saving time on the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Earls Court can be avoided where you instruct lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers lawyers.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Earls Court state that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord approving such changes. If you fail to have the approvals to hand do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your solicitor first.
  • Some Earls Court 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 obtain bank and professional references. The 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 there is a history of conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are settled prior to the flat being marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is a current dispute. You may have to bite the bullet 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 prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to present the dispute as historic as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share certificate. Organising a new share certificate is often a lengthy process and frustrates many a Earls Court home move. Where a new share is required, do contact the company director and secretary or managing agents (where applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.

  • Having spent months of negotiations we simply can't agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Earls Court. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

    Most definitely. We can put you in touch with a Earls Court conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Earls Court premises is 5 Wetherby Gardens in June 2014. the Tribunal concluded that the price to be paid for the freehold of the property was £2,369,452. This case was in relation to 5 flats. The unexpired lease term was 38.98 years.

    What makes a Earls Court lease defective?

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

    • Repairing obligations to or maintain parts of the property
    • A duty to insure the building
    • A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
    • 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 Nottingham Building Society all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. Where a lender has been advised by their lawyers that the lease is problematic they may refuse to provide security, forcing the purchaser to withdraw.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Earls Court