Questions and Answers: Gipsy Hill leasehold conveyancing
Harry (my fiance) and I may need to rent out our Gipsy Hill 1st floor flat for a while due to a new job. We instructed a Gipsy Hill conveyancing practice in 2003 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to seek any advice as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?
A lease dictates relations between the freeholder and you the flat owner; in particular, it will say if subletting is banned, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Gipsy Hill do not prevent an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the property. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a copy of the tenancy agreement.
I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a reasonable price which is making it more attractive. I have since discovered that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are issues buying a leasehold house in Gipsy Hill. Conveyancing solicitors have are soon to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?
The majority of houses in Gipsy Hill are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. it is apparent that you are buying in Gipsy Hill in which case you should be shopping around for a Gipsy Hill conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to dealing with leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. Being a lessee 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 changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a contribution towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the house is located on an estate. Your solicitor will report to you on the legal implications.
My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Gipsy Hill. Conveyancing and HSBC Bank mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone saying they have taken over the freehold. It included a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1998. The conveyancing practitioner in Gipsy Hill who acted for me is not around.What should I do?
The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to make sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. There is no need to incur the fees of a Gipsy Hill conveyancing firm to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.
I've recently bought a leasehold house in Gipsy Hill. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to completion of my purchase?
In a situation 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. A critical element 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 am employed by a busy estate agency in Gipsy Hill where we have witnessed a few leasehold sales jeopardised due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given contradictory information from local Gipsy Hill conveyancing solicitors. Please can you clarify whether the owner of a flat can initiate the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?
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. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to wait 2 years to extend their lease. 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.
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 buyer.
I have had difficulty in trying to purchase the freehold in Gipsy Hill. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?
You certainly can. We are happy to put you in touch with a Gipsy Hill conveyancing firm who can help.
An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Gipsy Hill property is Flat 5 4 Border Crescent in December 2013. the tribunal calculated that premium payable for the acquisition of a lease extension of the subject premises was in the sum of £14,900 (Fourteen thousand, nine hundred pounds). Those advising the applicant were advised to send a copy of the decision and a copy of the new lease with the premium (less the applicants costs as assessed by the Court) to the Croydon County Court (under claim number 3CR01226) for an officer of the Court to execute the new lease on behalf of the absentee landlord who is missing and cannot be traced). This case was in relation to 1 flat. The unexpired term was 69 years.