Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in North Woolwich:

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Sample questions relating to North Woolwich leasehold conveyancing

Helen (my wife) and I may need to rent out our North Woolwich garden flat for a while due to taking a sabbatical. We used a North Woolwich conveyancing practice in 2004 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to get any advice as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

The lease dictates relations between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will indicate if subletting is banned, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. Most leases in North Woolwich do not prevent subletting altogether – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the property. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a copy of the tenancy agreement.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a two flats in North Woolwich which have in the region of fifty years left on the lease term. Do I need to be concerned?

A lease is a right to use the property for a period of time. As a lease gets shorter the marketability of the lease reduces and it becomes more expensive to acquire a lease extension. This is why it is generally wise to increase the term of the lease. Sometimes it is difficulties arise selling premises with a short lease because mortgage lenders may be unwilling to lend money on such properties. Lease extension can be a protracted process. We recommend you get professional assistance from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this field

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in North Woolwich. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

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 work for a long established estate agent office in North Woolwich where we have witnessed a few flat sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have been given inconsistent advice from local North Woolwich conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the seller 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 kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the proposed purchaser 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 simultaneously with completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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.

I have had difficulty in trying to purchase the freehold in North Woolwich. Can this matter be resolved via the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

Where there is a missing freeholder or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant legislation it is possible to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to arrive at the amount due.

An example of a Lease Extension case for a North Woolwich flat is 46 Credon Road in January 2014. On 11 September 2013 Deputy District Judge Price sitting at the Bow County Court made a vesting order that the freeholder surrender his lease and be granted a new lease of the Premises on such terms as may be determined by the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).The appropriate sum as concluded by the Tribunal was £7225 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 69.77 years.

What makes a North Woolwich lease defective?

There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in North Woolwich. All leases are individual and legal mistakes in the legal wording can result in certain clauses are wrong. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

  • Repairing obligations to or maintain elements of the premises
  • Insurance obligations
  • A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
  • Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall

A defective lease will likely cause problems when trying to sell a property primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Barclays , The Royal Bank of Scotland, and Barclays Direct all have very detailed 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 grant the mortgage, forcing the buyer to pull out.