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Recently asked questions relating to South Kensington leasehold conveyancing

Harry (my fiance) and I may need to let out our South Kensington garden flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We instructed a South Kensington conveyancing practice in 2003 but they have closed and we did not think at the time get any advice as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

Your lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the flat owner; specifically, it will say if subletting is banned, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. Most leases in South Kensington do not prevent strict prohibition on subletting – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the flat. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a duplicate of the sublease.

I today plan to offer on a house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently found out that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns purchasing a house with a leasehold title in South Kensington. Conveyancing advisers have are about to be appointed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in South Kensington are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in South Kensington in which case you should be shopping around for a South Kensington conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. As a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions for example requiring the freeholder’spermission to conduct changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your lawyer will report to you on the legal implications.

I am employed by a busy estate agency in South Kensington where we have witnessed a few flat sales derailed as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received contradictory information from local South Kensington conveyancing solicitors. Could you clarify whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension process 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 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 to extend their lease. 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 purchaser.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in South Kensington with the aim of expediting the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in South Kensington can be reduced if you appoint lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
  • Many landlords or managing agents in South Kensington charge for providing management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management pack sought on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most usual reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in South Kensington.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s approval? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in South Kensington state that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring necessitate a licence from the Landlord acquiescing to such alterations. Should you fail to have the paperwork in place do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your conveyancer in advance.
  • If you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are settled prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be concerned about purchasing a flat where a dispute is unresolved. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to present the dispute as over rather than unsettled.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the Management Company, you should make sure that you have the original share document. Arranging a new share certificate is often a time consuming process and slows down many a South Kensington conveyancing transaction. Where a new share certificate is required, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.

  • All being well we will complete the disposal of our £200000 maisonette in South Kensington in 5 days. The freeholder has quoted £384 for Landlord’s certificate, building insurance schedule and previous years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge an administration fee for a flat conveyance in South Kensington?

    South Kensington conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes often necessitates the buyer’s conveyancer submitting questions for the landlord to answer. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to address such questions the majority will be willing to do so. They are entitled invoice a reasonable administration fee for answering questions or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average costs for the paperwork that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some transactions it exceeds £800. The administration charge demanded by the landlord must be sent together with a synopsis of rights and obligations in respect of administration fees, without which the invoice is technically not due. In reality one has no choice but to pay whatever is demanded if you want to exchange contracts with the buyer.

    We have reached the end of our tether in trying to purchase the freehold in South Kensington. Can this matter be resolved via the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

    Most definitely. We are happy to put you in touch with a South Kensington conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a South Kensington premises is Flat 16 21/22 Stanhope Gardens in November 2010. the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal concluded that the premium to be paid by the tenant on the grant of a new lease, in accordance with section 56 and Schedule 13 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, was £106,975 This case related to 1 flat. The remaining number of years on the lease was 51.93 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in South Kensington