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Top Five Questions relating to Norbury leasehold conveyancing

My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Norbury. Conveyancing and Coventry Building Society mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1993. The conveyancing solicitor in Norbury who previously acted has now retired.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is make enquiries of the Land Registry to be sure that this person is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. There is no need to incur the fees of a Norbury conveyancing practitioner to do this as it can be done on-line for less than a fiver. You should note that in any event, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I've recently bought a leasehold property in Norbury. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to completion of my purchase?

In a situation 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. It is an essential part 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).

I am a negotiator for a reputable estate agency in Norbury where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received conflicting advice from local Norbury conveyancing firms. Could you confirm whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

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 to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

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 purchaser.

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Norbury from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Norbury can be avoided where you appoint lawyers the minute you market your property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ lawyers.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s consent? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Norbury leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord consenting to such works. Should you fail to have the approvals in place you should not contact the landlord without checking with your lawyer in the first instance.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are settled before the property is marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a flat where there is an ongoing dispute. 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 purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic as opposed to ongoing.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should make sure that you are holding the original share document. Organising a duplicate share certificate is often a lengthy formality and slows down many a Norbury conveyancing transaction. Where a duplicate share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this as soon as possible.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable double-check via your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to where the remaining number of years is below 80 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without getting anywhere. Can I apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal? Can you recommend a Norbury conveyancing firm to help?

    if there is a absentee landlord or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the LVT to arrive at the sum to be paid.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a Norbury residence is Flat 12, Newlands Court Streatham Common North in May 2012. the decision of the Tribunal was that the premium payable by the Applicants to the Respondent for the new lease of the Premises be £70,140. This case affected 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 23.25 years.

    What makes a Norbury lease problematic?

    Leasehold conveyancing in Norbury is not unique. All leases are individual and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain provisions are missing. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain elements of the building
    • Insurance obligations
    • A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
    • Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage

    You could have difficulties when selling your property if you have a defective lease as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Lloyds TSB Bank, Coventry Building Society, and Aldermore all have express conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease is defective they may refuse to provide security, forcing the buyer to withdraw.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Norbury