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Top Five Questions relating to Walworth leasehold conveyancing

I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in Walworth. Before I set the wheels in motion I would like to find out the unexpired term of the lease.

Assuming the lease is recorded at the land registry - and almost all are in Walworth - 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 only have Seventy years left on my flat in Walworth. I need to extend my lease but my landlord is absent. What should I do?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be extended by the magistrate. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you have used your best endeavours to find the freeholder. For most situations a specialist would be helpful to carry out a search and prepare an expert document to be used as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. 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 Walworth.

I work for a reputable estate agency in Walworth where we have witnessed a number of flat sales jeopardised due to short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Walworth conveyancing solicitors. Could you clarify whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

Provided that the seller has been the owner 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. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser need not have to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or simultaneously with completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is 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.

Can you offer any advice when it comes to choosing a Walworth conveyancing practice to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a conveyancer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Walworth conveyancing firm) it is most important that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We suggested that you talk with two or three firms including non Walworth conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be useful:

  • Can they put you in touch with client in Walworth who can give a testimonial?
  • What are the charges for lease extension work?

  • Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Walworth with the aim of speeding up the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Walworth can be reduced where you get in touch lawyers the minute you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ solicitors.
    • Many freeholders or managing agents in Walworth levy fees for providing management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management pack sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most common reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Walworth.
  • Some Walworth leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying 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 the benefit of shareholding in the Management Company, you should make sure that you are holding the original share document. Obtaining a re-issued share certificate can be a time consuming process and frustrates many a Walworth conveyancing transaction. If a new share certificate is required, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You believe that you know the number of years left on your lease but you should verify this via your solicitors. A purchaser's conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is below 75 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 home on the market for sale.

  • Following months of dialogue we cannot agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Walworth. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

    in cases where there is a absentee landlord or where there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant legislation it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to arrive at the price.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Walworth residence is 28 Valmar Road in June 2013. this was a case with an absentee freeholder. As a result the leaseholders applied to the Lambeth County Court for an order dispensing with the giving of a notice of claim. On 25 April 2013 District Judge Zimmels made a vesting order and directed that the matter should be transferred to this tribunal to determine the premium. The tribunal concluded on a figure of £1,125 This case affected 3 flats. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 968 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Walworth