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Questions and Answers: Stratford leasehold conveyancing

I am in need of some leasehold conveyancing in Stratford. 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 recorded at the land registry - and most are in Stratford - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details 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 seems to meet my requirements, at a great price which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently discovered that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are issues buying a leasehold house in Stratford. Conveyancing solicitors have are about to be instructed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Stratford ?

The majority of houses in Stratford are freehold and not leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. it is apparent that you are purchasing in Stratford so you should seriously consider looking for a Stratford 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 leaseholder you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease will likely included provisions such as obtaining the freeholder’spermission to conduct changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your solicitor will advise you fully on all the issues.

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Stratford. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

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. It is an essential part of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to be sure 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).

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

When appointing a solicitor for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Stratford conveyancing practice) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We advise that you talk with two or three firms including non Stratford conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be of use:

  • How experienced is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • If they are not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?

  • Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Stratford with the aim of saving time on the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Stratford can be bypassed if you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the buyers representatives.
    • Many landlords or Management Companies in Stratford charge for providing management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should discover the actual amount of the charges. The management information can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most usual cause of frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Stratford.
  • Some Stratford leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is 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 buyers or their solicitors.
  • If you have had conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are settled before the property is put on the market. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where a dispute is ongoing. You will have to accept that you will have to discharge any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose details of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to present the dispute as over rather than unresolved.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be wise to verify this via your lawyers. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is less than 80 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your home on the market for sale.

  • I am the proprietor of a two-bedroom flat in Stratford. Given that I can not reach agreement with the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the sum payable for the purchase of the freehold?

    Most certainly. We can put you in touch with a Stratford conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a Stratford residence is 12 Nutfield Road in July 2014. the Tribunal judged that the price to be paid by the applicants for the freehold interest should be £19,572 This case affected 2 flats. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 72.02 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Stratford