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Questions and Answers: Muswell Hill leasehold conveyancing

I own a leasehold house in Muswell Hill. Conveyancing and Nottingham Building Society mortgage are in place. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1991. The conveyancing practitioner in Muswell Hill who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

First contact HMLR to be sure that this person is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. There is no need to incur the fees of a Muswell Hill conveyancing lawyer to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for a few pound. You should note that regardless, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Muswell Hill. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before my ownership?

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 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 am a negotiator for a reputable estate agency in Muswell Hill where we see a few leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Muswell Hill conveyancing firms. Please can you confirm whether the seller of a flat can start the lease extension process for the buyer?

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. This means that the buyer need not have to sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done prior to, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

Alternatively, it may be possible 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.

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Muswell Hill from the point of view of expediting the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Muswell Hill can be avoided where you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ representatives.
  • Many landlords or managing agents in Muswell Hill charge for providing management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management pack sought on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The typical amount of time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most usual reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Muswell Hill.
  • Some Muswell Hill leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be concerned about purchasing a property where a dispute is ongoing. 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 are still duty bound to disclose details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic as opposed to unsettled.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be wise to double-check by asking your solicitors. A buyer’s conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is under 80 years. It is therefore important at an early stage that you identify whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete the disposal of our £225000 flat in Muswell Hill next week. The freeholder has quoted £348 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and 3 years statements of service charge. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge such fees for a leasehold conveyance in Muswell Hill?

    For most leasehold sales in Muswell Hill conveyancing will involve, questions about the management of a building inevitably needing to be answered directly by the freeholder or its agent, this includes :

    • Addressing conveyancing due diligence enquiries
    • Where consent is required before sale in Muswell Hill
    • Copies of the building insurance and schedule
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your lawyer will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Muswell Hill leasehold premises is £350. For Muswell Hill conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are obliged to supply the information.

    After years of negotiations we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Muswell Hill. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

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

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Muswell Hill flat is Flat B 10 Grove Avenue in October 2013. Following a vesting order Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court 3rd July 2013 The tribunal determines that the premium payable for the lease extension was £36,215.00 This case related to 1 flat. The remaining number of years on the lease was 65.21 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Muswell Hill