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Questions and Answers: South Kensington leasehold conveyancing

There are only 72 years left on my flat in South Kensington. I now wish to extend my lease but my freeholder is missing. What options are available to me?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to find the landlord. In some cases a specialist should be helpful to carry out a search and to produce an expert document which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a solicitor both on proving the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court overseeing South Kensington.

Due to exchange soon on a studio apartment in South Kensington. Conveyancing lawyers assured me that they will have a report out to me on Monday. Are there areas in the report that I should be focusing on?

Your report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in South Kensington should include some of the following:

  • You should be sent a copy of the lease
  • How long the lease is You should be advised as what happens when the lease expires, and informed of the importance of the 80 year mark
  • Whether the lease restricts you from renting out the flat, or working from home
  • You must be told what counts as a Nuisance in the lease
  • Changes to the flat (alterations and additions)
  • The landlord’s obligations to repair and maintain the building. It is important that you know who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of every part of the building
  • What you can do if a neighbour breach a clause of their lease? For a comprehensive list of information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in South Kensington please enquire of your lawyer in advance of your conveyancing in South Kensington

  • I’m about to sell my basement flat in South Kensington.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just had a half-yearly maintenance 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. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

    I've recently bought a leasehold house in South Kensington. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

    In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. It is an essential part of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to be sure to have an up to date clear service charge receipt before completion of your purchase. If you have a mortgage this is likely to be a requirement of your lender.

    If you purchase part way through an accounting year you may be liable for charges not yet demanded even if they relate to a period prior to your purchase. In such circumstances your conveyancer would normally arrange for the seller to set aside some money to cover their part of the period (usually called a service charge retention).

    Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in South Kensington from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in South Kensington can be avoided where you instruct lawyers the minute you market your property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers lawyers.
    • Many freeholders or managing agents in South Kensington levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the actual amount of the charges. The management information sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most frequent cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in South Kensington.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s approval? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? South Kensington leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or installing wooden flooring calls for a licence issued by the Landlord approving such works. If you fail to have the approvals to hand you should not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer first.
  • Some South Kensington leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are able to meet 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share certificate. Organising a replacement share certificate is often a lengthy formality and frustrates many a South Kensington conveyancing deal. If a new share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this at the earliest opportunity.

  • I am the registered owner of a two-bedroom flat in South Kensington. In the absence of agreement between myself and the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the premium payable for the purchase of the freehold?

    in cases where there is a missing freeholder or where there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the LVT to assess the amount due.

    An example of a Lease Extension decision 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