Common questions relating to Stratford leasehold conveyancing
I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that appears to tick a lot of boxes, at a great price which is making it all the more appealing. I have since discovered that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a house with a leasehold title in Stratford. Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed. Will they explain the issues?
Most houses in Stratford are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in Stratford in which case you should be looking for a Stratford conveyancing practitioner and be sure that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. First you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a leaseholder you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease will likely included provisions such as requiring the landlord’sconsent to conduct changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a contribution towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the house is part of an estate. Your solicitor will appraise you on the various issues.
My wife and I purchased a leasehold flat in Stratford. Conveyancing and Britannia mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1993. The conveyancing solicitor in Stratford who acted for me is not around.Do I pay?
First make enquiries of the Land Registry to be sure that this person is indeed the new freeholder. It is not necessary to incur the fees of a Stratford conveyancing firm to do this as it can be done on-line for £3. You should note that in any event, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.
Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Stratford. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?
Where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner 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 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 am employed by a reputable estate agency in Stratford where we have experienced a number of flat sales put at risk due to short leases. I have been given contradictory information from local Stratford conveyancing solicitors. Can you confirm whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?
As long as the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the buyer 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 before, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.
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 purchaser.
What advice can you give us when it comes to choosing a Stratford conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?
When appointing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Stratford conveyancing practice) it is essential that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We suggested that you make enquires with two or three firms including non Stratford conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be useful:
- If the firm is not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?
I have given up seeking a lease extension in Stratford. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?
Where there is a missing freeholder or if there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to make a decision on the price payable.
An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Stratford flat 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 was in relation to 2 flats. The unexpired term was 72.02 years.