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Questions and Answers: Finchley leasehold conveyancing

There are only Seventy years remaining on my flat in Finchley. I need to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What should I do?

If you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have used your best endeavours to find the landlord. In some cases a specialist would be helpful to try and locate and prepare an expert document which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer both on proving the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Finchley.

I have just started marketing my ground floor flat in Finchley.Conveyancing has not commenced but I have just received a yearly maintenance charge invoice – Do I pay up?

The sensible thing to do is pay the service charge 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 until 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

My wife and I purchased a leasehold flat in Finchley. Conveyancing and Coventry Building Society mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1996. The conveyancing practitioner in Finchley who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is contact HMLR to be sure that this person is in fact the new freeholder. You do not need to incur the fees of a Finchley conveyancing solicitor to do this as it can be done on-line for a few pound. You should note that in any event, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Finchley. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

Where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. Strange as it may seem, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. It is an essential part of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure to have an up to date clear service charge receipt before completion of your purchase. If you have a mortgage this is likely to be a requirement of your lender.

If you purchase part way through an accounting year you may be liable for charges not yet demanded even if they relate to a period prior to your purchase. In such circumstances your conveyancer would normally arrange for the seller to set aside some money to cover their part of the period (usually called a service charge retention).

I work for a long established estate agent office in Finchley where we have witnessed a number of flat sales derailed due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Finchley conveyancing firms. Could you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension process for the buyer?

As long as the seller has been the owner 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. This means that the proposed purchaser 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 prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is 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 buyer.

I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without getting anywhere. Can one make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal? Can you recommend a Finchley conveyancing firm to assist?

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

An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Finchley residence is Ground Floor 110 Station Road in June 2013. The Tribunal found that the premium payable for a lease extension should be £31,665. This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 56.65 years.

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Lease Extensions in Finchley