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Recently asked questions relating to Stockwell leasehold conveyancing

I have just appointed agents to market my ground floor apartment in Stockwell.Conveyancing is yet to be initiated but I have just received a quarterly service charge invoice – what should I do?

It best that you 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 management companies 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. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Stockwell. 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 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).

I work for a long established estate agency in Stockwell where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have been given contradictory information from local Stockwell conveyancing firms. Can you clarify whether the vendor of a flat can initiate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the proposed purchaser 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 disposal of the property.

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.

What advice can you give us when it comes to appointing a Stockwell conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

If you are instructing a solicitor for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Stockwell conveyancing practice) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you make enquires with two or three firms including non Stockwell conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be helpful:

  • How experienced is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • What volume of lease extensions have they carried out in Stockwell in the last year?

  • Completion in due on our sale of a £500000 flat in Stockwell next week. The freeholder has quoted £384 for Landlord’s certificate, building insurance schedule and previous years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge exorbitant fees for a leasehold conveyance in Stockwell?

    Stockwell conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes often necessitates the purchaser’s solicitor sending enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be content to assist. They may levy a reasonable administration fee for answering enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average fee for the paperwork that you are referring to is £350, in some cases it exceeds £800. The administration charge demanded by the landlord must be accompanied by a summary of rights and obligations in respect of administration charges, otherwise the invoice is technically not due. Reality however dictates that one has little option but to pay whatever is demanded should you wish to exchange contracts with the buyer.

    I own a a ground floor purpose built flat in Stockwell. Given that I can not reach agreement with the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the amount due for a lease extension?

    if there is a absentee landlord or where there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant statutes you can apply to the LVT to arrive at the price payable.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement matter before the tribunal for a Stockwell residence is 3 Tintern Street in February 2010. The tribunal had jurisdiction to make a decision on the price of the freehold of the subject premises and concluded that the premium should be £24,630.00 This case affected 2 flats. The unexpired lease term was 73.69 years.