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Questions and Answers: New Barnet leasehold conveyancing

I have recently realised that I have Seventy years left on my lease in New Barnet. I need to extend my lease but my freeholder is can not be found. 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 submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be lengthened by the Court. You will be obliged to prove that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the landlord. On the whole an enquiry agent would be helpful to carry out a search and prepare an expert document to be used as proof that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer in relation to proving the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing New Barnet.

Back In 2004, I bought a leasehold house in New Barnet. Conveyancing and Alliance & Leicester mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone saying they have taken over the reversionary interest in the property. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1995. The conveyancing practitioner in New Barnet who previously acted has long since retired.Any advice?

The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to be sure that this person is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to instruct a New Barnet conveyancing lawyer to do this as it can be done on-line for £3. You should note that in any event, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I am looking at a two maisonettes in New Barnet both have about 50 years remaining on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold flat in New Barnet is a deteriorating asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it adversely affects the value of the premises. The majority of buyers and banks, leases with under eighty years become less and less marketable. 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 property 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 premises 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 New Barnet conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend 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.

What are your top tips when it comes to appointing a New Barnet conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a New Barnet conveyancing practice) it is most important 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 New Barnet conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be of use:

  • If the firm is not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • What volume of lease extensions has the firm completed in New Barnet in the last year?

  • Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in New Barnet from the point of view of expediting the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in New Barnet can be avoided if you get in touch lawyers the minute you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers solicitors.
    • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s consent? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in New Barnet state that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such alterations. Where you dont have the approvals to hand you should not contact the landlord without contacting your conveyancer first.
  • Some New Barnet 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 obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is 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 there is a history of any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a property where a dispute is ongoing. You may have to bite the bullet and pay any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. 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 details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as over rather than unresolved.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should make sure that you hold the original share certificate. Obtaining a re-issued share certificate can be a lengthy process and delays many a New Barnet home move. If a new share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (if applicable) for this sooner rather than later.

  • I am the registered owner of a two-bedroom flat in New Barnet. In the absence of agreement between myself and the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the premium due for a lease extension?

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

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a New Barnet residence is Flat 2 2 Netherfield Road in April 2010. The Tribunale held that premium payable for a 90 year extension to the existing Lease should be £7,705. This case related to 1 flat. The remaining number of years on the lease was 76 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in New Barnet