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Questions and Answers: Lambeth leasehold conveyancing

Having had my offer accepted I require leasehold conveyancing in Lambeth. Before diving in I require certainty as to the number of years remaining on the lease.

Assuming the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in Lambeth - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

There are only Sixty One years unexpired on my lease in Lambeth. I need to get lease extension but my landlord is can not be found. What options are available to me?

If you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be granted an extra 90 years by the Court. However, you will be required to prove that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the lessor. On the whole an enquiry agent may be useful to carry out a search and prepare a report which can be used as evidence that the landlord can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a solicitor both on devolving into the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court overseeing Lambeth.

Back In 2005, I bought a leasehold house in Lambeth. Conveyancing and Clydesdale mortgage organised. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1992. The conveyancing practitioner in Lambeth who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

First make enquiries of HMLR to make sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the new freeholder. It is not necessary to instruct a Lambeth conveyancing lawyer to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. Rest assured that regardless, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Lambeth. 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. 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).

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Lambeth from the point of view of expediting the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Lambeth can be reduced if you appoint lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers lawyers.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s approval? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Lambeth state that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such works. If you dont have the paperwork in place do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your lawyer first.
  • A minority of Lambeth leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are 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 purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If you have had any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved before the property is put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where a dispute is ongoing. 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 will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as historic rather than unresolved.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share certificate. Arranging a duplicate share certificate can be a lengthy formality and delays many a Lambeth home move. Where a new share is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (where relevant) for this sooner rather than later.

  • Despite our best endeavours, we have been unsuccessful in trying to purchase the freehold in Lambeth. Can this matter be resolved via the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

    Absolutely. We are happy to put you in touch with a Lambeth conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Lambeth property is Flats 12A & 19, Evelyn Mansions Carlisle Place in June 2009. The Tribunal held that the price to be paid for the new lease of Flat 12A is £168,824, For the other flat the price was set at £169,110 This case was in relation to 2 flats. The unexpired lease term was 56 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Lambeth