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Hampstead Garden Suburb leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Jane (my partner) and I may need to let out our Hampstead Garden Suburb ground floor flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We instructed a Hampstead Garden Suburb conveyancing practice in 2001 but they have closed and we did not think at the time get any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

The lease dictates relations between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will set out if subletting is not allowed, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. Most leases in Hampstead Garden Suburb do not contain subletting altogether – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the flat. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a duplicate of the sublease.

I have recently realised that I have 68 years remaining on my flat in Hampstead Garden Suburb. I now want to get lease extension but my freeholder is missing. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be extended by the Court. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to locate the freeholder. In some cases a specialist may be helpful to try and locate and to produce a report which can be accepted by the court as proof that the landlord is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a conveyancer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Estate agents have just been given the go-ahead to market my 2 bed apartment in Hampstead Garden Suburb.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just received a yearly maintenance charge demand – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

The sensible thing to do is clear 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 management companies 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.

Back In 2000, I bought a leasehold house in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Conveyancing and Bank of Ireland mortgage organised. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. It included a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1995. The conveyancing practitioner in Hampstead Garden Suburb who acted for me is not around.Any advice?

First contact HMLR to make sure that this person is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to instruct a Hampstead Garden Suburb conveyancing firm to do this as it can be done on-line for a few pound. You should note that regardless, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I work for a long established estate agent office in Hampstead Garden Suburb where we have experienced a few leasehold sales derailed due to short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Hampstead Garden Suburb conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can commence the lease extension process 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 kick-start 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 needs to be completed before, or at the same time as 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.

After years of dialogue we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

Absolutely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Hampstead Garden Suburb conveyancing firm who can help.

An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Hampstead Garden Suburb flat is FFF, 37 and Garage 1, Queensborough Court North Circular Road in September 2012. The Tribunal determined that the premium for the lease extension should be £67,037 This case affected 1 flat. The remaining number of years on the lease was 23.66 years.