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Common questions relating to Harlington leasehold conveyancing

I am attracted to a couple of maisonettes in Harlington which have in the region of 50 years remaining on the lease term. Do I need to be concerned?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold flat in Harlington is a wasting asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it adversely affects the salability of the property. For most purchasers and mortgage companies, leases with less than eighty years become less and less marketable. On a more upbeat note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of a residence with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with Harlington conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend the lease They may agree to a smaller lump sum and an increase in the ground rent, but to shorter extension terms in return. You need to ensure that the agreed terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.

I am employed by a reputable estate agency in Harlington where we have experienced a few leasehold sales jeopardised due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Harlington conveyancing solicitors. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can start 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 commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means 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.

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 buyer.

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Harlington from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Harlington can be bypassed if you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers lawyers.
  • The majority landlords or Management Companies in Harlington levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management pack sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most common cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in Harlington.
  • A minority of Harlington leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying the yearly service charge and the actual amount of the service charge should be quoted in the bank’s letter. You will therefore need to provide your estate agents with the actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved before the property is put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where a dispute is unsettled. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to present the dispute as historic as opposed to unsettled.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the Management Company, you should ensure that you are holding the original share document. Organising a re-issued share certificate can be a time consuming formality and slows down many a Harlington conveyancing deal. Where a new share is needed, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (where relevant) for this as soon as possible.

  • Our conveyancer has advised that he intends to complete and exchange simultaneously on the sale of our £425000 maisonette in Harlington next week. The landlords agents has quoted £360 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and 3 years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge an administration fee for a flat conveyance in Harlington?

    For the majority of leasehold sales in Harlington conveyancing will involve, queries regarding the management of a building inevitably needing to be answered directly by the freeholder or its agent, this includes :

    • Completing conveyancing due diligence enquiries
    • Where consent is required before sale in Harlington
    • Supplying insurance information
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your solicitor will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Harlington leasehold property is £350. For Harlington conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are obliged to supply answers.

    I am the proprietor of a ground floor flat in Harlington. Given that I can not reach agreement with the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the sum payable for a lease extension?

    Most certainly. We can put you in touch with a Harlington conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Harlington residence is 164 Nestles Avenue in October 2013. The tribunal agreed with the proposed price of £20,158 for the freehold and determined that that sum is the amount to be paid into court This case was in relation to 2 flats. The remaining number of years on the lease was 69 years.

    When it comes to leasehold conveyancing in Harlington what are the most common lease problems?

    There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Harlington. Most leases are individual and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain provisions are wrong. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

    • Repairing obligations to or maintain elements of the building
    • Insurance obligations
    • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
    • Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage

    You could encounter difficulties when selling your property if you have a defective lease as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Accord Mortgages Ltd, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, and Britannia all have express conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease is problematic they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the purchaser to withdraw.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Harlington