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Questions and Answers: Earlsfield leasehold conveyancing

I would like to rent out my leasehold apartment in Earlsfield. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Do I need to ask my freeholder for their consent?

Your lease dictates the relationship between the landlord and you the flat owner; in particular, it will indicate if subletting is not allowed, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Earlsfield do not prevent an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the property. In most cases there is a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a copy of the sublease.

I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to be perfect, at a reasonable price which is making it all the more appealing. I have since found out that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Earlsfield. Conveyancing solicitors have are soon to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

The majority of houses in Earlsfield are freehold and not leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in Earlsfield so you should seriously consider looking for a Earlsfield conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to advising 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 to the property. The lease comes with conditions for example obtaining the freeholder’spermission to carry out changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the property is part of an estate. Your conveyancer should appraise you on the various issues.

I am attracted to a two flats in Earlsfield both have in the region of fifty years remaining on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Earlsfield is a wasting asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The closer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it reduces the salability of the premises. For most buyers and lenders, leases with under eighty years become less and less marketable. On a more positive 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 property 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 Earlsfield conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend 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 the agreed 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.

What advice can you give us when it comes to choosing a Earlsfield conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Earlsfield conveyancing practice) it is imperative that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We advise that you make enquires with several firms including non Earlsfield conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be of use:

  • How many lease extensions has the firm carried out in Earlsfield in the last 12 months?
  • What are the legal fees for lease extension work?

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

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Earlsfield can be reduced where you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ representatives.
    • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s approval? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Earlsfield state that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring require a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. Where you fail to have the approvals to hand you should not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in the first instance.
  • A minority of Earlsfield 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 financial (bank) and professional references. Any 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 lawyers.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should make sure that you hold the original share certificate. Organising a duplicate share certificate can be a time consuming process and frustrates many a Earlsfield conveyancing deal. If a reissued share is necessary, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable double-check via your solicitors. A purchaser's lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to where the remaining number of years is below 80 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you identify whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord to extend my lease without success. Can a leaseholder make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal? Can you recommend a Earlsfield conveyancing firm to help?

    You certainly can. 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 residence 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 number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 70.57 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Earlsfield