Sample questions relating to St James's leasehold conveyancing
I wish to rent out my leasehold apartment in St James's. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask him. Is permission from the freeholder required?
The lease dictates the relationship between the freeholder and you the flat owner; in particular, 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 allowed. The majority of leases in St James's 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 sending a duplicate of the sublease.
I today plan to offer on a house that appears to meet my requirements, at a reasonable figure which is making it all the more appealing. I have subsequently been informed that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are issues buying a house with a leasehold title in St James's. Conveyancing advisers have are soon to be instructed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in St James's ?
The majority of houses in St James's are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can help the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in St James's in which case you should be shopping around for a St James's conveyancing practitioner and be sure that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions for example obtaining the landlord’sconsent to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the property is part of an estate. Your solicitor will appraise you on the various issues.
I've recently bought a leasehold flat in St James's. 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. A critical element of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure 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).
I am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in St James's where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received inconsistent advice from local St James's conveyancing solicitors. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can initiate the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?
Provided that 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. This means that the buyer can avoid having to sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done prior to, or at the same time as completion of the sale.
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 buyer.
I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord to extend my lease without getting anywhere. Can a leaseholder make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal? Can you recommend a St James's conveyancing firm to act on my behalf?
You certainly can. We can put you in touch with a St James's conveyancing firm who can help.
An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a St James's residence is 20 Avonwick Road in July 2013. The Tribunal was dealing with an application under Section 26 of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 for a determination of the freehold value of the property. It was concluded that the price to be paid was Fifteen Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy (£15,970) divided as to £8,200 for Flat 20 and £7,770 for Flat 20A This case related to 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 73.26 years.
Are there frequently found problems that you encounter in leases for St James's properties?
Leasehold conveyancing in St James's is not unique. All leases are individual and drafting errors can result in certain sections are erroneous. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:
- A provision to repair to or maintain elements of the property
- Insurance obligations
- 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
You may have difficulties when selling your property if you have a defective lease primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Santander, Bank of Scotland, and Clydesdale all have very detailed conveyancing instructions 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 provide security, obliging the purchaser to pull out.