Experts for Leasehold Conveyancing in St James's

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Recently asked questions relating to St James's leasehold conveyancing

Having had my offer accepted I require leasehold conveyancing in St James's. Before I set the wheels in motion I would like to find out the number of years remaining on the lease.

If the lease is registered - and 99.9% are in St James's - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

I've found a house that appears to tick a lot of boxes, at a great price which is making it all the more appealing. I have since 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 implications of buying a leasehold house in St James's ?

Most houses in St James's are freehold and not leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in St James's in which case you should be looking for a St James's conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. Being a leaseholder you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as requiring the freeholder’sconsent to conduct alterations. It may be necessary to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the property is part of an estate. Your solicitor will appraise you on the various issues.

I work for a long established estate agency in St James's where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales jeopardised due to short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local St James's conveyancing solicitors. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

As long as the seller has owned the lease 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 buyer.

What are your top tips when it comes to finding a St James's conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a St James's conveyancing firm) it is essential that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you speak with two or three firms including non St James's conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be useful:

  • Can they put you in touch with client in St James's who can give a testimonial?
  • What are the legal fees for lease extension work?

  • Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in St James's with the aim of speeding up the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in St James's can be avoided if you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start marketing the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers conveyancers.
    • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s consent? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? St James's leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or laying down wooden flooring necessitate a licence issued by the Landlord consenting to such works. If you dont have the approvals in place do not contact the landlord without contacting your conveyancer before hand.
  • A minority of St James's leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved before the property is marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a flat where a dispute is unsettled. You may need to swallow your pride 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 ahead of 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 better to present the dispute as over rather than ongoing.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but you should double-check by asking your solicitors. A buyer’s lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to where the lease term is less than 80 years. It is therefore essential 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.

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord for a lease extension without getting anywhere. Can one apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal? Can you recommend a St James's conveyancing firm to help?

    Most certainly. 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 property 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 the unexpired residue of the current lease was 73.26 years.