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Top Five Questions relating to Pimlico leasehold conveyancing

I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in Pimlico. Before I set the wheels in motion I would like to find out the number of years remaining on the lease.

If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and almost all are in Pimlico - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars 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.

Harry (my fiance) and I may need to rent out our Pimlico 1st floor flat for a while due to a new job. We used a Pimlico conveyancing practice in 2001 but they have closed and we did not think at the time seek any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

A small minority of properties in Pimlico do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord is not entitled to unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to see 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 permission.

I’m about to sell my garden flat in Pimlico.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just received a quarterly maintenance charge invoice – what should I do?

It best that you discharge the invoice as normal because all ground rent and service charges will be apportioned on completion, so you will be reimbursed by the buyer for the period running from after the completion date to the next payment date. Most management companies will not acknowledge the buyer until the service charges have been paid and are up to date so it is important for both buyer and seller for the seller to show that they are up to date. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Pimlico. 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. 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 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).

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Pimlico from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Pimlico can be reduced where you appoint lawyers the minute you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ solicitors.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Pimlico state that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord consenting to such changes. Where you fail to have the paperwork to hand you should not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in advance.
  • A minority of Pimlico leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. Any bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are financially capable of paying the yearly 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If you have had conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where a dispute is unresolved. You will have to accept that you will have to discharge any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to 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 clearly preferable to present the dispute as historic rather than unresolved.
  • You believe that you know the number of years left on your lease but it would be wise to double-check via your conveyancers. A purchaser's lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to where the lease term is below 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • After years of correspondence we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Pimlico. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

    if there is a absentee freeholder 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 First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to arrive at the price payable.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Pimlico flat is Flats 12A & 19, Evelyn Mansions Carlisle Place in June 2009. The Tribunal held that the price to be paid for the new lease of Flat 12A is £168,824, For the other flat the price was set at £169,110 This case affected 2 flats. The remaining number of years on the lease was 56 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Pimlico