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North Sheen leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Having had my offer accepted I require leasehold conveyancing in North Sheen. Before diving in I want to be sure as to the unexpired term of the lease.

Assuming the lease is recorded at the land registry - and 99.9% are in North Sheen - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

I would like to let out my leasehold flat in North Sheen. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Is permission from the freeholder required?

Some leases for properties in North Sheen do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord cannot unreasonably withhold but, in such cases, they would need to review references. Experience dictates 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 consent.

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only Fifty years left on my lease in North Sheen. I now want to extend my lease but my freeholder is missing. What should I do?

On the basis that you qualify, 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 enable the lease to be lengthened by the magistrate. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to find the landlord. In some cases a specialist may be useful to conduct investigations and prepare an expert document to be accepted by the court as proof that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a solicitor in relation to devolving into the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court covering North Sheen.

I am looking at a two maisonettes in North Sheen which have about forty five years remaining on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are plenty of short leases in North Sheen. The lease is a right to use the property for a prescribed time frame. As the lease gets shorter the saleability of the lease reduces and it becomes more expensive to acquire a lease extension. For this reason it is advisable to increase the term of the lease. It is often difficult to sell a property with a short lease because mortgage lenders may be unwilling to lend money on such properties. Lease extension can be a protracted process. We advise that you get professional assistance from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this area

I've recently bought a leasehold house in North Sheen. Am I liable to pay 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. Strange as it may seem, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. A critical element 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 own a ground-floor 1960’s flat in North Sheen. In the absence of agreement between myself and the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the amount due for the purchase of the freehold?

Where there is a missing freeholder or if there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to arrive at the premium.

An example of a Lease Extension decision for a North Sheen property is Flat 1 30 Ennismore Avenue in September 2010. the Tribunal adopted and arrived at a premium for the lease extension of £29, 900 This case related to 1 flat. The unexpired term was 68.34 years.