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Top Five Questions relating to Norbiton leasehold conveyancing

Helen (my wife) and I may need to let out our Norbiton 1st floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Norbiton conveyancing firm in 2004 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to get any guidance as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

Some leases for properties in Norbiton do contain a provision to say that subletting is only allowed with permission. The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience suggests that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting permission.

I am looking at a couple of flats in Norbiton which have approximately 50 years remaining on the leases. should I be concerned?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Norbiton is a deteriorating asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it reduces the marketability of the premises. The majority of purchasers and banks, leases with less than eighty years become less and less attractive. On a more upbeat 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 a residence 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 Norbiton 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 any new 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.

I am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in Norbiton where we see a number of leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Norbiton conveyancing solicitors. Can you clarify whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension process for the buyer?

Provided that the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer can avoid having to wait 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 simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

An alternative approach is 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 top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Norbiton from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Norbiton can be bypassed where you instruct lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers lawyers.
  • Many landlords or managing agents in Norbiton levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should discover the actual amount of the charges. The management information sought on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most frequent reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Norbiton.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s permission? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Norbiton leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord approving such changes. Should you fail to have the approvals in place do not contact the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in advance.
  • A minority of Norbiton leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. Any bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying 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 buyers or their solicitors.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are settled 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 unresolved. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge 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 prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose details of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic rather than unresolved.

  • Completion in due on the sale of our £125000 maisonette in Norbiton next Thursday . The managing agents has quoted £312 for Landlord’s certificate, insurance certificate and 3 years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge exorbitant fees for a flat conveyance in Norbiton?

    Norbiton conveyancing on leasehold flats often requires the buyer’s solicitor submitting enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to answer these enquiries most will be content to assist. They may levy a reasonable administration fee for responding to questions or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average costs for the information that you are referring to is £350, in some cases it exceeds £800. The management information fee demanded by the landlord must be sent together with a summary of rights and obligations in relation to administration charges, otherwise the charge is technically not due. Reality however dictates that you have little option but to pay whatever is requested of you should you wish to sell the property.

    I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such issues? Can you recommend a Norbiton conveyancing firm to represent me?

    in cases where there is a absentee landlord or where there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant legislation you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to arrive at the price payable.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Norbiton residence is Flat D 15 Claremont Gardens in September 2013. TheTribunal determined in accordance with section48 and Schedule13 of the Leasehold Reform,Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 that the premium for the extended lease should be fourteen thousand one hundred and eighty seven pounds (£14,187.00) This case affected 1 flat.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Norbiton