Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Richmond:

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Richmond leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Harry (my fiance) and I may need to rent out our Richmond garden flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We instructed a Richmond conveyancing practice in 2004 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to seek any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

A lease dictates relations between the landlord and you the flat owner; specifically, it will say if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Richmond do not prevent strict prohibition on subletting – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the flat. In most cases there is a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a copy of the tenancy agreement.

I have recently realised that I have 68 years left on my flat in Richmond. I now want to get lease extension but my freeholder is can not be found. What should I do?

If you meet the appropriate requirements, 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 lengthened by the magistrate. However, you will be required to prove that you or your lawyers have used your best endeavours to find the lessor. For most situations a specialist should be useful to try and locate and prepare an expert document to be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer in relation to investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Richmond.

I am attracted to a couple of apartments in Richmond both have about fifty years remaining on the leases. should I be concerned?

There are plenty of short leases in Richmond. The lease is a legal document that entitles you to use the premises for a period of time. As the lease gets shorter the marketability of the lease reduces and it becomes more expensive to extend the lease. This is why it is generally wise to increase the term of the lease. Sometimes it is difficult to sell a property with a short lease as mortgage lenders less inclined to grant a loan on properties of this type. Lease extension can be a protracted process. We advise that you seek professional help from a conveyancer and surveyor with experience in this area

I work for a long established estate agency in Richmond where we see a few leasehold sales put at risk due to short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Richmond conveyancing firms. Can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

Provided that 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 buyer need not have to wait 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 simultaneously with 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 appointing a Richmond conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

If you are instructing a solicitor for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Richmond conveyancing practice) it is imperative that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We suggested that you make enquires with several firms including non Richmond conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be of use:

  • What volume of lease extensions has the firm conducted in Richmond in the last 12 months?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Richmond who can give a testimonial?

  • Leasehold Conveyancing in Richmond - Examples of Questions you should consider Prior to Purchasing

      Is anyone aware of any major works in the planning that could increase the maintenance fees? It would be wise to find out as much as you can regarding the company managing the building as they will either make your living at the property much simpler or problematic. As the proprietor of a leasehold property you are often at the mercy of the managing agents both financially and when it comes to every day issues like the upkeep of the communal areas. Don't be shy to ask other people what they think of their service. On a final note, investigate as to the dates that the service charges are due to the managing agents and specifically what it includes. On the whole the cost for major works tend not to be included within service charges, although some managing agents in Richmond ask leasehold owners to pay into a reserve fund created for the specific purpose of establishing a fund for larger works.