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Questions and Answers: Frognal leasehold conveyancing

I want to sublet my leasehold flat in Frognal. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask him. Do I need to ask my freeholder for permission?

Your lease governs the relationship between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; specifically, it will indicate if subletting is banned, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Frognal do not prevent an absolute prevention of subletting – such a provision would adversely affect the market value the property. In most cases there is a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a copy of the tenancy agreement.

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

In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. However, 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 be sure 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 busy estate agent office in Frognal where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales derailed as a result of short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Frognal conveyancing firms. Can you confirm whether the vendor of a flat can start the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has owned the lease 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 needs to be completed prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

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 purchaser.

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

If you are instructing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Frognal 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 speak with several firms including non Frognal conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions might be useful:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?
  • What volume of lease extensions have they carried out in Frognal in the last year?

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decide on such issues? Can you recommend a Frognal conveyancing firm to assist?

    You certainly can. We can put you in touch with a Frognal conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Frognal residence is Raised Ground Floor Flat 20 Fitzjohns Avenue in July 2014. the Tribunal decided that the premiums to be paid for new leases in respect of the Raised Ground Floor Flat and the First Floor Flat were to be calculated as: Raised Ground Floor: £765,175.14 First Floor: £601,617.77 This case was in relation to 2 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 16.83 and 16.43.

    Are there frequently found defects that you witness in leases for Frognal properties?

    Leasehold conveyancing in Frognal is not unique. All leases is drafted differently and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain clauses are erroneous. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

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

    A defective lease will likely cause issues when trying to sell a property primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Accord Mortgages Ltd, Skipton Building Society, and Barclays Direct all have very detailed requirements when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease does not cover certain provisions they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the purchaser to withdraw.