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Recently asked questions relating to East Sheen leasehold conveyancing

I have just started marketing my basement apartment in East Sheen.Conveyancing has not commenced but I have just had a half-yearly maintenance charge demand – what should I do?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should pay the invoice as normal because all ground rent and service charges will be apportioned on completion, so you will be reimbursed by the buyer for the period running from after the completion date to the next payment date. Most managing agents will not acknowledge the buyer unless the service charges have been paid and are up to date so it is important for both buyer and seller for the seller to show that they are up to date. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

I today plan to offer on a house that appears to be perfect, at a great price which is making it all the more appealing. I have since discovered that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are issues buying a leasehold house in East Sheen. Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed. Will they explain the issues?

The majority of houses in East Sheen are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can help the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in East Sheen so you should seriously consider looking for a East Sheen conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. First you will need to check the unexpired lease term. Being a leaseholder you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions for example requiring the freeholder’spermission to carry out alterations. It may be necessary to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the property is located on an estate. Your solicitor should report to you on the legal implications.

I work for a reputable estate agency in East Sheen where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales derailed due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local East Sheen conveyancing solicitors. Can you clarify whether the vendor of a flat can initiate the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

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. The benefit of this is that the buyer can avoid having to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

Alternatively, it may be possible to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in East Sheen from the point of view of saving time on the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in East Sheen can be reduced if you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information needed by the buyers lawyers.
  • Many freeholders or managing agents in East Sheen levy fees for providing management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most frequent reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in East Sheen.
  • A minority of East Sheen leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (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 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 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 nervous about purchasing a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to 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 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 better to present the dispute as historic as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should ensure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a new share certificate is often a time consuming formality and slows down many a East Sheen conveyancing transaction. Where a duplicate share is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (where applicable) for this sooner rather than later.

  • I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such issues? Can you recommend a East Sheen conveyancing firm to help?

    Where there is a missing landlord or if there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant statutes you can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to judgment on the amount due.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a East Sheen flat is 19 St. Margarets Crescent in August 2010. the tribunal was of the view that the premium to be paid by the leaseholder for the freehold reversion was £51,983.00 This case was in relation to 3 flats. The remaining number of years on the lease was 66.25 years.

    What makes a East Sheen lease unacceptable for security purposes?

    There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in East Sheen. Most leases are unique and legal mistakes in the legal wording can result in certain sections are not included. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain elements of the property
    • 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

    You could have a problem when selling your property if you have a defective lease as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Lloyds TSB Bank, Barnsley Building Society, and Platform Home Loans Ltd all have express requirements when it comes to what is expected in a lease. Where a lender has been advised by their lawyers that the lease does not cover certain provisions they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the purchaser to withdraw.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in East Sheen