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Common questions relating to Wandsworth leasehold conveyancing

There are only 72 years left on my lease in Wandsworth. I need to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What options are available to me?

On the basis that you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be extended by the Court. However, you will be required to prove that you have used your best endeavours to locate the freeholder. For most situations a specialist should be useful to carry out a search and to produce an expert document which can be accepted by the court as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor in relation to devolving into the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court covering Wandsworth.

I am looking at a two maisonettes in Wandsworth which have approximately fifty years unexpired on the leases. Will this present a problem?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold flat in Wandsworth is a deteriorating asset as a result of the shortening lease. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it reduces the value of the premises. For most buyers and lenders, leases with less than 75 years become less and less attractive. On a more upbeat note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the property for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of premises with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with Wandsworth conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending the lease They may agree to a smaller lump sum and an increase in the ground rent, but to shorter extension terms in return. You need to ensure that the agreed terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Wandsworth. 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. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. A critical element 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).

I work for a reputable estate agency in Wandsworth where we have witnessed a few flat sales derailed due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received inconsistent advice from local Wandsworth conveyancing solicitors. Please can you clarify whether the seller of a flat can initiate the lease extension process 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 start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer can avoid having to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. 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 sale.

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 buyer.

Can you offer any advice when it comes to appointing a Wandsworth conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

When appointing a solicitor for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Wandsworth conveyancing practice) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We recommend that you speak with two or three firms including non Wandsworth conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be helpful:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?
  • What are the charges for lease extension conveyancing?

  • My wife and I have hit a brick wall in trying to purchase the freehold in Wandsworth. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

    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 assess the price payable.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement matter before the tribunal for a Wandsworth flat is 4 Galveston Road in August 2012. The Tribunal determined that the price payable in respect of the purchase of the freehold was £22,650. The Tribunal remited this matter back to the Wandsworth County Court for execution of the freehold Transfer Deed. This case related to 2 flats.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Wandsworth