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Recently asked questions relating to Herne Hill leasehold conveyancing

I’m about to sell my 2 bed flat in Herne Hill.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just had a quarterly maintenance charge invoice – Do I pay up?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should 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 unless 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

I am looking at a couple of apartments in Herne Hill which have about forty five years unexpired on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold flat in Herne Hill is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it adversely affects the marketability of the property. The majority of purchasers and mortgage companies, leases with less than eighty years become less and less marketable. On a more positive note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the property 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 premises 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 Herne Hill conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending the lease You may find he or she is happy to negotiate informally and willing to consider your offer straight off, without having to involve anyone else. This will save you time and money and it could help you reach a lower price on the lease. 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 agent office in Herne Hill where we have witnessed a number of leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Herne Hill conveyancing solicitors. Please can you confirm whether the owner of a flat can instigate the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

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 sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

Alternatively, it may be possible 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.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Herne Hill with the aim of speeding up the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Herne Hill can be reduced where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers representatives.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s consent? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Herne Hill state that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring calls for a licence issued by the Landlord consenting to such works. Should you dont have the paperwork in place do not contact the landlord without contacting your solicitor first.
  • A minority of Herne Hill leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should ensure that you hold the original share certificate. Obtaining a replacement share certificate is often a time consuming process and frustrates many a Herne Hill conveyancing transaction. If a new share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if applicable) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but you should verify this via your lawyers. A buyer’s lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to to exchange contracts if the lease term is less than 80 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you identify whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete the sale of our £325000 flat in Herne Hill next week. The managing agents has quoted £384 for Landlord’s certificate, insurance certificate and previous years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge such fees for a flat conveyance in Herne Hill?

    Herne Hill conveyancing on leasehold apartments usually necessitates the buyer’s solicitor submitting enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be content to do so. They may charge a reasonable charge for responding to questions or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average fee for the paperwork that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some situations it is above £800. The administration charge levied by the landlord must be sent together with a summary of rights and obligations in respect of administration charges, otherwise the invoice is technically not due. In reality one has little choice but to pay whatever is requested of you should you wish to complete the sale of your home.

    I have had difficulty in trying to purchase the freehold in Herne Hill. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

    if there is a missing landlord or where there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to arrive at the sum to be paid.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Herne Hill premises is 66 Southwell Road in March 2012. By Order of Deputy District Judge Stone dated 25 January 2012 a vesting order was made. The determination of the purchase price was referred to the Tribunal who decided that the amount payable for the freehold should be£29,612.00 This case affected 3 flats. The unexpired lease term was 72.58 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Herne Hill