Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Fitzrovia:

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Examples of recent questions relating to leasehold conveyancing in Fitzrovia

Estate agents have just been given the go-ahead to market my garden flat in Fitzrovia.Conveyancing has not commenced but I have just had a half-yearly maintenance charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should 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. 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 meet my requirements, at a great figure which is making it all the more appealing. I have just been informed that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns purchasing a house with a leasehold title in Fitzrovia. Conveyancing solicitors have are about to be appointed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Fitzrovia ?

The majority of houses in Fitzrovia 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. We note that you are purchasing in Fitzrovia so you should seriously consider shopping around for a Fitzrovia conveyancing practitioner and check that they are used to dealing with leasehold houses. First you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions for example requiring the freeholder’spermission to carry out changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a service charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the house is located on an estate. Your lawyer should report to you on the legal implications.

I am looking at a two apartments in Fitzrovia both have in the region of 50 years unexpired on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Fitzrovia is a deteriorating asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The nearer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it reduces the value of the premises. For most purchasers 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 Fitzrovia 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 They may agree to a smaller lump sum and an increase in the ground rent, but to shorter extension terms in return. You need to ensure that any new 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 appointing a Fitzrovia conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a solicitor for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Fitzrovia conveyancing practice) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We suggested that you talk with two or three firms including non Fitzrovia conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be useful:

  • If the firm is not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • How many lease extensions has the firm conducted in Fitzrovia in the last 12 months?

  • Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Fitzrovia with the intention of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Fitzrovia can be bypassed where you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ solicitors.
    • The majority landlords or managing agents in Fitzrovia levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the fee that they propose to charge. The management information sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most usual reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Fitzrovia.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s consent? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Fitzrovia leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord approving such changes. Should you fail to have the paperwork in place you should not contact the landlord without checking with your lawyer before hand.
  • A minority of Fitzrovia leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is 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 there is a history of conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are settled before the property is put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is a current dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to completion of the sale. 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 buyers, but it is clearly preferable to present the dispute as historic rather than unresolved.

  • My wife and I have hit a brick wall in trying to reach an agreement for a lease extension in Fitzrovia. Can this matter be resolved via the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

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

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement matter before the tribunal for a Fitzrovia residence is 20 Avonwick Road in July 2013. The Tribunal was dealing with an application under Section 26 of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 for a determination of the freehold value of the property. It was concluded that the price to be paid was Fifteen Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy (£15,970) divided as to £8,200 for Flat 20 and £7,770 for Flat 20A This case affected 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 73.26 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Fitzrovia