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Questions and Answers: Marylebone leasehold conveyancing

There are only 68 years left on my lease in Marylebone. I now want to get lease extension but my landlord is absent. What options are available to me?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to track down the lessor. On the whole a specialist would be useful to conduct investigations and prepare an expert document to be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a conveyancer in relation to proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Marylebone.

I’m about to sell my ground floor apartment in Marylebone.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just had a yearly maintenance charge demand – what should I do?

The sensible thing to do is 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Marylebone. Conveyancing and Bank of Ireland mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1992. The conveyancing practitioner in Marylebone who previously acted has long since retired.Do I pay?

First make enquiries of the Land Registry to be sure that this person is in fact the new freeholder. It is not necessary to instruct a Marylebone conveyancing firm to do this as it can be done on-line for £3. Rest assured that regardless, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I am looking at a couple of maisonettes in Marylebone both have about 50 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 Marylebone is a deteriorating asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, 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 attractive. 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 property 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 Marylebone 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.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Marylebone. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

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 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).

I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord for a lease extension without getting anywhere. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decide on such issues? Can you recommend a Marylebone conveyancing firm to assist?

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

An example of a Lease Extension case for a Marylebone premises is Flats 37 & 39 88/90 Portland Place in December 2010. The Tribunal determined that the premium payable for the lease extensions in respect of these two flats is as follows:- For Flat 37, the sum of £385,230.00 For Flat 39, the sum of £436,780.00 This case affected 2 flats. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 24.02 years.

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Lease Extensions in Marylebone