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Common questions relating to Hammersmith leasehold conveyancing

My wife and I purchased a leasehold flat in Hammersmith. Conveyancing and Yorkshire Building Society mortgage organised. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1996. The conveyancing practitioner in Hammersmith who previously acted has long since retired.Do I pay?

First make enquiries of the Land Registry to make sure that this person is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. There is no need to incur the fees of a Hammersmith conveyancing firm to do this as it can be done on-line for less than a fiver. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a two apartments in Hammersmith which have about fifty years unexpired on the lease term. Will this present a problem?

A lease is a legal document that entitles you to use the premises for a prescribed time frame. As a lease gets shorter the marketability of the lease decreases and results in it becoming more costly to acquire a lease extension. For this reason it is generally wise to increase the term of the lease. It is often difficulties arise selling premises with a short lease as mortgage companies less inclined to grant a loan on such properties. Lease enfranchisement can be a difficult process. We advise that you seek professional help from a conveyancer and surveyor with experience in this area

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Hammersmith. 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 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 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 a negotiator for a reputable estate agency in Hammersmith where we have experienced a few flat sales put at risk due to short leases. I have been given contradictory information from local Hammersmith conveyancing firms. Can you confirm whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension process for the buyer?

Provided that the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the buyer can avoid having 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.

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 purchaser.

What are your top tips when it comes to finding a Hammersmith conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

When appointing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Hammersmith conveyancing firm) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We advise that you talk with two or three firms including non Hammersmith conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be helpful:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • What volume of lease extensions have they carried out in Hammersmith in the last year?

  • I have had difficulty in trying to reach an agreement for a lease extension in Hammersmith. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

    if there is a absentee landlord or if there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant legislation it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to arrive at the price payable.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Hammersmith residence is 19 Crisp Road in June 2009. Following a vesting order (Under section 26 of the Leasehold Reform,Housing and Urban Development Act 1993) The tribunal determined that the premium payable for the acquisition of the freehold was £33,756,apportioned as to£12,285 for the lower at and £21,471for the upper fat. This case was in relation to 2 flats. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 68.32 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Hammersmith