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Frequently asked questions relating to Kentish Town leasehold conveyancing

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a couple of flats in Kentish Town both have approximately fifty years remaining on the leases. Do I need to be concerned?

There are plenty of short leases in Kentish Town. The lease is a right to use the premises for a period of time. As a lease shortens the saleability of the lease reduces and it becomes more costly to acquire a lease extension. This is why it is generally wise to extend the lease term. Sometimes it is difficulties arise selling premises with a short lease because mortgage lenders may be reluctant to lend money on such properties. Lease extension can be a difficult process. We advise that you seek professional assistance from a conveyancer and surveyor with experience in this field

I've recently bought a leasehold house in Kentish Town. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner 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. A critical element 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 work for a long established estate agency in Kentish Town where we have witnessed a number of flat sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Kentish Town conveyancing solicitors. Could you clarify whether the seller of a flat can start the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

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 has to be done before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

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 buyer.

What are your top tips when it comes to finding a Kentish Town conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a solicitor for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Kentish Town conveyancing firm) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We suggested that you make enquires with two or three firms including non Kentish Town conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be helpful:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • How many lease extensions has the firm carried out in Kentish Town in the last year?

  • Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Kentish Town from the point of view of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Kentish Town can be bypassed if you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
    • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Kentish Town leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such alterations. If you dont have the consents to hand you should not contact the landlord without checking with your solicitor in advance.
  • Some Kentish Town leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • 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 new share certificate can be a lengthy process and slows down many a Kentish Town home move. If a reissued share certificate is necessary, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but you should verify this by asking your conveyancers. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the lease term is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord to extend my lease without any joy. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such issues? Can you recommend a Kentish Town conveyancing firm to act on my behalf?

    You certainly can. We are happy to put you in touch with a Kentish Town conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Kentish Town property is Flat 2 27 Mackeson Road in December 2012. The Tribunal assessed the value of the lease extension premium at £35,435 and rounded the figure to £35,500 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 64.77 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Kentish Town