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Orpington leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only 72 years remaining on my lease in Orpington. I need to extend my lease but my freeholder is missing. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be extended by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to locate the landlord. On the whole an enquiry agent may be useful to carry out a search and to produce a report to be accepted by the court as proof that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a conveyancer in relation to investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Orpington.

Expecting to complete next month on a ground floor flat in Orpington. Conveyancing solicitors have said that they will have a report out to me on Monday. Are there areas in the report that I should be focusing on?

The report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in Orpington should include some of the following:

  • Defining your legal entitlements in respect of common areas in the building.By way of example, does the lease permit a right of way over a path or hallways?
  • You should have a good understanding of the insurance provisions
  • Repair and maintenance of the flat
  • I don't know whether the lease allows me to alter or improve anything in the flat - you should know whether it applies to all alterations or just structural alteration, and whether consent is required
  • Whether the landlord has obligations to ensure rights of quiet enjoyment over your premises and do you know what it means in practice?
  • What options are open to you if a neighbour breach a clause of their lease?
  • What the implications are if you breach a clause of your lease? For details of the information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in Orpington please ask your conveyancer in ahead of your conveyancing in Orpington

  • I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Orpington. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

    In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee 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 ensure 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 employed by a long established estate agency in Orpington where we see a number of leasehold sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Orpington conveyancing solicitors. Could you clarify whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

    As long as the seller has owned the lease 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 sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done prior to, or at the same time as 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.

    Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Orpington with the aim of expediting the sale process?

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Orpington can be avoided if you instruct lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers solicitors.
    • The majority freeholders or Management Companies in Orpington charge for supplying management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should find out the actual amount of the charges. The management information sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The typical amount of time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most usual reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Orpington.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are settled before the property is put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is an ongoing dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to 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 ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as over as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should make sure that you hold the original share document. Obtaining a re-issued share certificate is often a time consuming formality and delays many a Orpington home move. Where a duplicate share is needed, do contact the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but it would be wise to verify this via your conveyancers. A buyer’s lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is important 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.

  • Having spent years of dialogue we are unable to agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Orpington. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

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

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Orpington property is 1 Southlands Court Southlands Road in September 2013. The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal determined that the premium to be paid by the tenant on the grant of a new lease, in accordance with section 56 and Schedule 13 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 was £30,541 This case affected 1 flat. The unexpired lease term was 50.57 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Orpington