Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Poplar:

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Top Five Questions relating to Poplar leasehold conveyancing

I have just appointed agents to market my garden apartment in Poplar.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just received a half-yearly service charge invoice – what should I do?

The sensible thing to do is pay 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 managing agents 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.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a couple of flats in Poplar both have about fifty years left on the lease term. Will this present a problem?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold apartment in Poplar is a deteriorating asset as a result of the reducing lease term. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it reduces the marketability of the premises. For most purchasers and lenders, leases with less than 75 years become less and less attractive. On a more positive note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of premises with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with Poplar conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending the lease They may agree to a smaller lump sum and an increase in the ground rent, but to shorter extension terms in return. You need to ensure that any new terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.

I am employed by a reputable estate agency in Poplar where we have witnessed a number of leasehold sales derailed due to short leases. I have been given contradictory information from local Poplar conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can commence the lease extension process for the buyer?

As long as the seller has owned the lease 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. The benefit of this is that the buyer 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 needs to be completed prior to, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

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 buyer.

What advice can you give us when it comes to finding a Poplar conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

If you are instructing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Poplar conveyancing firm) it is imperative that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We suggested that you talk with two or three firms including non Poplar conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be of use:

  • How many lease extensions has the firm carried out in Poplar in the last twenty four months?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Poplar who can give a testimonial?

  • Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Poplar from the point of view of expediting the sale process?

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Poplar can be reduced if you appoint lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ conveyancers.
    • The majority freeholders or managing agents in Poplar levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The typical amount of time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most frequent reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Poplar.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s permission? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Poplar leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or addition of wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such works. Should you fail to have the paperwork to hand you should not communicate with the landlord without contacting your conveyancer in advance.
  • Some Poplar leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your landlord 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 need to swallow your pride and pay any arrears of service charge or resolve 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 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 unresolved.

  • I am the registered owner of a ground floor flat in Poplar. Given that I can not reach agreement with the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the premium due for a lease extension?

    You certainly can. We can put you in touch with a Poplar conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Poplar flat is 12, 14 & 16 Hull Close in May 2010. the Tribunal determined that the premium payable for the acquisition of the freehold to the subject premises was the sum of £18,300 This case was in relation to 3 flats. The remaining number of years on the lease was 101.61 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Poplar