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Questions and Answers: St Margarets leasehold conveyancing

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only 72 years unexpired on my lease in St Margarets. I now wish to extend my lease but my landlord is missing. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, 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 track down the freeholder. For most situations an enquiry agent may be helpful to conduct investigations and to produce a report to be accepted by the court as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a conveyancer in relation to proving the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing St Margarets.

I today plan to offer on a house that appears to tick a lot of boxes, at a great price which is making it all the more appealing. I have subsequently found out that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are issues purchasing a house with a leasehold title in St Margarets. Conveyancing solicitors have are soon to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

The majority of houses in St Margarets are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are purchasing in St Margarets so you should seriously consider shopping around for a St Margarets conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in dealing with leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a leaseholder you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as obtaining the freeholder’sconsent to conduct alterations. You may also be required to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the estate where the property is located on an estate. Your lawyer will advise you fully on all the issues.

I've recently bought a leasehold property in St Margarets. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?

Where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. Strange as it may seem, 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).

All being well we will complete our sale of a £400000 flat in St Margarets next Tuesday . The freeholder has quoted £420 for Landlord’s certificate, insurance certificate and previous years statements of service charge. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge exorbitant fees for a leasehold conveyance in St Margarets?

St Margarets conveyancing on leasehold flats nine out of ten times necessitates administration charges raised by management companies :

  • Answering pre-contract questions
  • Where consent is required before sale in St Margarets
  • Supplying insurance information
  • Deeds of covenant upon sale
  • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
Your solicitor will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for St Margarets leasehold property is £350. For St Margarets 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 required to supply answers.

I am the leaseholder of a ground flat in St Margarets. In the absence of agreement between myself and the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the amount due for the purchase of the freehold?

in cases where there is a absentee landlord or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes you can apply to the LVT to decide the price.

An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a St Margarets property is Ground Floor Flat 91 Bath Road in May 2009. in a case where the freeholder could not be traced, the Brentford County Court ordered that the Lease be surrendered in return for the grant of a new lease of the Premises at a premium determined by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. The tribunal concluded that the price payable by the Applicant for the new lease of the premises be £15,900 This case related to 1 flat. The remaining number of years on the lease was 60.45 years.

Are there frequently found defects that you witness in leases for St Margarets properties?

There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in St Margarets. Most leases are unique and legal mistakes in the legal wording can sometimes mean that certain sections are erroneous. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

  • Repairing obligations to or maintain elements of the premises
  • A duty to insure the building
  • A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
  • Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall

You will 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. Accord Mortgages Ltd, Chelsea Building Society, and Bank of Ireland 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 is problematic they may refuse to provide security, obliging the purchaser to withdraw.

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in St Margarets