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Common questions relating to St James's leasehold conveyancing

I want to rent out my leasehold flat in St James's. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Do I need to ask my freeholder for their consent?

Some leases for properties in St James's do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord is not entitled to unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience suggests that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting consent.

I’m about to sell my basement flat in St James's.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just received a quarterly service charge demand – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

The sensible thing to do is discharge 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 unless 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 am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that appears to be perfect, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have just been informed that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are issues purchasing a leasehold house in St James's. Conveyancing advisers have are about to be appointed. Will they explain the issues?

Most 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 assist with the conveyancing process. it is apparent that you are buying in St James's so you should seriously consider looking for a St James's conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to dealing with leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease will likely included provisions such as obtaining the freeholder’sconsent to carry out changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the house is located on an estate. Your solicitor should report to you on the legal implications.

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in St James's from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in St James's can be bypassed if you instruct lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ solicitors.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s consent? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in St James's state that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord approving such works. Should you dont have the approvals to hand you should not contact the landlord without contacting your conveyancer first.
  • If you have had conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are settled prior to the flat being put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where a dispute is unsettled. You may have to bite the bullet and discharge 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 will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as over rather than unresolved.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should ensure that you hold the original share document. Arranging a re-issued share certificate is often a lengthy formality and slows down many a St James's conveyancing deal. If a new share is needed, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where relevant) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You believe that you know the number of years left on your lease but you should double-check via your solicitors. A buyer’s lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is less than 80 years. It is therefore important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete the sale of our £450000 maisonette in St James's next week. The management company has quoted £408 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and 3 years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge such fees for a flat conveyance in St James's?

    St James's conveyancing on leasehold flats nine out of ten times necessitates fees being levied by management companies :

    • Completing pre-exchange enquiries
    • Where consent is required before sale in St James's
    • Supplying insurance information
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your conveyancer will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for St James's leasehold property is £350. For St James's conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are obliged to provide answers.

    I am the leaseholder of a two-bedroom flat in St James's. Given that I can not reach agreement with the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the sum payable for a lease extension?

    You certainly can. We are happy to 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 premises 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 was in relation to 1 flat. The unexpired term was 73.26 years.