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Recently asked questions relating to Earlsfield leasehold conveyancing

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a two flats in Earlsfield which have in the region of 50 years unexpired on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

A lease is a right to use the premises for a prescribed time frame. As the lease shortens the saleability of the lease deteriorate and results in it becoming more expensive to acquire a lease extension. For this reason it is generally wise to increase the term of the lease. More often than not it is difficulties arise selling premises with a short lease as mortgage companies less inclined to grant a loan on properties of this type. Lease extension can be a protracted process. We recommend you get professional help from a conveyancer and surveyor with experience in this arena

I am a negotiator for a long established estate agent office in Earlsfield where we see a number of flat sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Earlsfield conveyancing solicitors. Could you clarify whether the vendor of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

Provided that the seller has been the owner 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 can avoid having to wait 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.

What advice can you give us when it comes to appointing a Earlsfield conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Earlsfield conveyancing firm) it is essential that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We suggested that you speak with several firms including non Earlsfield conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be useful:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • How many lease extensions have they completed in Earlsfield in the last year?

  • Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Earlsfield with the aim of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Earlsfield can be avoided where you get in touch lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information needed by the purchasers’ solicitors.
    • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s approval? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? Earlsfield leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or installing wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord acquiescing to such alterations. If you fail to have the approvals to hand do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in advance.
  • A minority of Earlsfield leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are financially capable of paying 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are settled prior to the flat being marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You may need to swallow your pride and discharge any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic rather than ongoing.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should ensure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a re-issued share certificate can be a lengthy formality and frustrates many a Earlsfield home move. Where a reissued share certificate is required, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (where applicable) for this sooner rather than later.

  • Completion in due on our sale of a £375000 maisonette in Earlsfield next week. The freeholder has quoted £420 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and 3 years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge exorbitant fees for a flat conveyance in Earlsfield?

    Earlsfield conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes usually requires the buyer’s solicitor submitting questions for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to address these enquiries most will be willing to assist. They are entitled levy a reasonable charge for answering enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average costs for the paperwork that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some cases it is in excess of £800. The management information fee invoiced by the landlord must be sent together with a synopsis of entitlements and obligations in respect of administration charges, otherwise the charge is technically not due. In reality you have no option but to pay whatever is requested of you should you wish to sell the property.

    I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such matters? Can you recommend a Earlsfield conveyancing firm to act on my behalf?

    Absolutely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Earlsfield conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Earlsfield flat is 35 Trewint Street in February 2012. The Tribunal arrived at a premium of £32 425 for the freehold reversion. The matter was transferred back to the court for further consideration which required the applicants pay the premium (less any assessed costs) into court after which the court would execute a transfer of the freehold. This case affected 2 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 70.57 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Earlsfield