Frequently asked questions relating to Hackney leasehold conveyancing
Jane (my partner) and I may need to let out our Hackney 1st floor flat temporarily due to a new job. We used a Hackney conveyancing practice in 2003 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to get any advice as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?
Your lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will indicate 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 Hackney do not prevent an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the flat. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a copy of the tenancy agreement.
There are only Seventy years remaining on my flat in Hackney. I now want to extend my lease but my freeholder is can not be found. What should I do?
On the basis that you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be extended by the Court. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to locate the landlord. In some cases an enquiry agent may be useful to conduct investigations and to produce a report which can be used as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer in relation to devolving into the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court overseeing Hackney.
I own a leasehold house in Hackney. Conveyancing and Alliance & Leicester mortgage organised. I have received a letter from someone saying they have taken over the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1996. The conveyancing practitioner in Hackney who acted for me is not around.Any advice?
The first thing you should do is make enquiries of HMLR to be sure that this person is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. It is not necessary to instruct a Hackney conveyancing practitioner 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 rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.
Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Hackney. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before my ownership?
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 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 long established estate agency in Hackney where we have experienced a few leasehold sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Hackney conveyancing solicitors. Could you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the buyer?
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. This means that the buyer need not have to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or at the same time as 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 buyer.
I have had difficulty in trying to purchase the freehold in Hackney. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?
if there is a absentee freeholder or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to assess the amount due.
An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Hackney premises is 150 Amhurst Road in December 2013. The tribunal concluded that the premium to be paid by the applicant for the enfranchisement of the subject property was £43,500. This case was in relation to 4 flats. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 90 (or thereabouts).