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Questions and Answers: South Harrow leasehold conveyancing

I've found a house that appears to be perfect, at a reasonable price which is making it more attractive. I have just found out that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns buying a house with a leasehold title in South Harrow. Conveyancing advisers have are about to be appointed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in South Harrow are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in South Harrow in which case you should be shopping around for a South Harrow conveyancing practitioner and be sure that they have experience in transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease will likely included provisions for example requiring the freeholder’sconsent to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a service charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the property is located on an estate. Your solicitor should appraise you on the various issues.

I own a leasehold house in South Harrow. Conveyancing and TSB mortgage organised. I have received a letter from someone saying they have taken over the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1997. The conveyancing solicitor in South Harrow who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is contact HMLR to be sure that this person is in fact the new freeholder. It is not necessary to incur the fees of a South Harrow conveyancing practitioner to do this as it can be done on-line for £3. You should note that in any event, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I am employed by a reputable estate agent office in South Harrow where we see a few flat sales put at risk as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local South Harrow conveyancing firms. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means 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 needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

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 purchaser.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in South Harrow with the aim of saving time on the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in South Harrow can be bypassed where you appoint lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s permission? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? South Harrow leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord consenting to such works. If you dont have the paperwork in place you should not contact the landlord without contacting your conveyancer first.
  • If there is a history of conflict 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 may have to bite the bullet and pay 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 are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to present the dispute as over rather than unresolved.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should make sure that you are holding the original share document. Organising a replacement share certificate can be a lengthy formality and delays many a South Harrow home move. Where a duplicate share is needed, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (if applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but you should double-check by asking your lawyers. A purchaser's lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is less than 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an as soon as possible that you identify whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without getting anywhere. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decide on such matters? Can you recommend a South Harrow conveyancing firm to assist?

    Where there is a absentee landlord or if there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to make a decision on the sum to be paid.

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a South Harrow flat is GFF 1 Holyrood Avenue in May 2014. The Tenant wished to acquire a new (extended) lease and applied to the Willesden County Court who granted a vesting order on 20* March2013. The Tribunal decied that the premium to be paid was £9,062 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The unexpired term was 79 years.

    When it comes to leasehold conveyancing in South Harrow what are the most frequent lease defects?

    Leasehold conveyancing in South Harrow is not unique. All leases are individual and legal mistakes in the legal wording can sometimes mean that certain sections are missing. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain parts of the property
    • A duty to insure the building
    • A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
    • Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall

    You may have a problem when selling your property if you have a defective lease as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Birmingham Midshires, Barnsley Building Society, and Godiva Mortgages Ltd all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease is problematic they may refuse to provide security, forcing the buyer to withdraw.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in South Harrow