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Questions and Answers: Putney leasehold conveyancing

Helen (my wife) and I may need to sub-let our Putney ground floor flat for a while due to taking a sabbatical. We instructed a Putney conveyancing practice in 2001 but they have closed and we did not think at the time seek any advice as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?

A small minority of properties in Putney do contain a provision to say that subletting is only allowed with permission. The landlord is not entitled to unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to review references. Experience suggests 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.

Due to complete next month on a ground floor flat in Putney. Conveyancing lawyers inform me that they will have a report out to me tomorrow. Are there areas in the report that I should be focusing on?

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

  • Setting out your legal entitlements in respect of the communal areas in the building.For example, does the lease contain a right of way over an accessway or staircase?
  • Do you need to have carpet in the flat or are you allowed wood flooring?
  • Ground rent - how much and when you need to pay, and also know whether this will change in the future
  • Whether your lease has a provision for a reserve fund?
  • 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?
  • Responsibility for repairing the window frames For a comprehensive list of information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in Putney please enquire of your solicitor in ahead of your conveyancing in Putney

  • I am a negotiator for a reputable estate agent office in Putney where we have witnessed a number of flat sales put at risk due to short leases. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Putney conveyancing firms. Can you clarify whether the vendor of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities 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 start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

    Alternatively, it may be possible 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.

    Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Putney from the perspective of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Putney can be bypassed if you get in touch lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to collate the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
    • Many freeholders or Management Companies in Putney charge for providing management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most common cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in Putney.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Putney state that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord consenting to such works. Should you fail to have the approvals to hand do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your solicitor before hand.
  • A minority of Putney leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. Any bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is able to meet the annual 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 solicitors.
  • If you have had conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be warry about purchasing a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You may need to swallow your pride and 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 ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic as opposed to ongoing.

  • Following months of negotiations we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Putney. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

    Where there is a missing landlord or if there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant statutes it is possible to make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to assess the amount due.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Putney premises is 19 St. Margarets Crescent in August 2010. the tribunal was of the view that the premium to be paid by the leaseholder for the freehold reversion was £51,983.00 This case related to 3 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 66.25 years.

    When it comes to leasehold conveyancing in Putney what are the most frequent lease problems?

    There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Putney. Most leases is drafted differently and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain sections are erroneous. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain parts of the property
    • A duty to insure the building
    • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
    • Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall

    A defective lease will likely cause issues when trying to sell a property primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Barclays , Barnsley Building Society, and TSB all have express requirements when it comes to what is expected in a lease. Where a lender has been advised by their lawyers that the lease does not cover certain provisions they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the purchaser to pull out.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Putney