Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Knightsbridge:

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Recently asked questions relating to Knightsbridge leasehold conveyancing

I have just started marketing my 2 bed apartment in Knightsbridge.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just had a half-yearly service charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

It best that you pay the invoice 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 managing agents 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. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

I am attracted to a couple of maisonettes in Knightsbridge which have about 50 years unexpired on the leases. Will this present a problem?

There are plenty of short leases in Knightsbridge. The lease is a legal document that entitles you to use the premises for a period of time. As the lease shortens the saleability of the lease reduces and results in it becoming more costly to acquire a lease extension. For this reason it is advisable to extend the lease term. More often than not it is difficulties arise selling premises with a short lease because mortgage companies less inclined to grant a loan on properties of this type. Lease enfranchisement can be a difficult process. We recommend you get professional help from a conveyancer and surveyor with experience in this area

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Knightsbridge. 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 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. A critical element of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure 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).

Can you offer any advice when it comes to finding a Knightsbridge conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a property lawyer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Knightsbridge conveyancing practice) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We recommend that you speak with several firms including non Knightsbridge conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions might be helpful:

  • What volume of lease extensions has the firm conducted in Knightsbridge in the last year?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Knightsbridge who can give a testimonial?

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

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Knightsbridge can be bypassed where you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
    • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s approval? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Knightsbridge state that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such changes. Should you fail to have the consents in place do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in the first instance.
  • Some Knightsbridge 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 financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is able to meet 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 lawyers.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be warry about purchasing a property where a dispute is unresolved. You will have to accept that you will have to pay any arrears of service charge or settle 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 over as opposed to ongoing.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable double-check via your conveyancers. A buyer’s conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to where the lease term is under 75 years. It is therefore 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 property on the market for sale.

  • Following months of negotiations we are unable to agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Knightsbridge. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

    Where there is a missing freeholder or where there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant statutes it is possible to make an application to the LVT to determine the price.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Knightsbridge property is Flat 3 47 Cadogan Square in December 2010. the Tribunal determined that the premium payable to the landord by the leaseholder for the lease extension was £732,935 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 13.33 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Knightsbridge