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Sample questions relating to Hornchurch leasehold conveyancing

Frank (my husband) and I may need to rent out our Hornchurch basement flat temporarily due to a new job. We instructed a Hornchurch conveyancing firm in 2001 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to seek any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

A small minority of properties in Hornchurch do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord is not entitled to unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience dictates that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting permission.

I am looking at a two maisonettes in Hornchurch which have approximately 50 years left on the leases. Do I need to be concerned?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Hornchurch is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it adversely affects the salability of the property. The majority of buyers and lenders, leases with under 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 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 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 Hornchurch 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 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've recently bought a leasehold flat in Hornchurch. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to 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. Strange as it may seem, 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 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 am a negotiator for a long established estate agent office in Hornchurch where we have witnessed a few flat sales derailed due to short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Hornchurch conveyancing firms. Can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can commence the lease extension process for the buyer?

As long as the seller has been the owner 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 buyer need not have to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is 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.

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Hornchurch from the point of view of saving time on the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Hornchurch can be bypassed if you instruct lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ representatives.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Hornchurch state that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord approving such changes. Where you fail to have the approvals in place do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer in advance.
  • Some Hornchurch 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 able to meet the annual 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 buyers or their solicitors.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are settled prior to the flat being marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be concerned about purchasing a property where there is a current dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and pay any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to present the dispute as historic as opposed to ongoing.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the Management Company, you should make sure that you hold the original share certificate. Arranging a replacement share certificate can be a time consuming process and slows down many a Hornchurch home move. Where a duplicate share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this sooner rather than later.

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

    if there is a absentee landlord or where there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the LVT to decide the price payable.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Hornchurch flat is 37 Lodge Court High Street in November 2013. the decision of the LVT was that the premium to be paid for the new lease was £25,559 This case affected 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 57.5 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Hornchurch