Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Wanstead:

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Top Five Questions relating to Wanstead leasehold conveyancing

I am in need of some leasehold conveyancing in Wanstead. Before diving in I require certainty as to the unexpired term of the lease.

If the lease is registered - and 99.9% are in Wanstead - 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 have recently realised that I have 68 years left on my lease in Wanstead. I now wish to get lease extension but my landlord is missing. What should I do?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be granted an extra 90 years by the Court. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you have used your best endeavours to locate the freeholder. On the whole an enquiry agent would be helpful to carry out a search and prepare an expert document which can be used as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor both on investigating the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Wanstead.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Wanstead. 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 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. 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 am a negotiator for a busy estate agency in Wanstead where we have experienced a few flat sales jeopardised due to short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Wanstead conveyancing solicitors. Please can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can instigate 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 proposed purchaser need not have to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

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 buyer.

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Wanstead from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Wanstead can be bypassed if you appoint lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ solicitors.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example installed wooden flooring? Wanstead leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring require a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. Where you fail to have the paperwork in place you should not communicate with the landlord without contacting your solicitor first.
  • A minority of Wanstead leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this applies to your lease, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain bank and professional references. Any bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying the annual 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 lawyers.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are settled prior to the flat being marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to discharge any arrears of service charge or resolve 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 buyers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as historic rather than unresolved.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but you should double-check 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 under 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your premises on the market for sale.

  • I am the leaseholder of a ground flat in Wanstead. Given that I can not reach agreement with the freeholder, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the amount payable for a lease extension?

    Where there is a missing freeholder or if there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant legislation you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to make a decision on the price.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a Wanstead property is 36 New Wanstead in August 2010. The Tribunal arrived at a valuation of the premium for the freehold of £22,359. This case related to 2 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 73.92 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Wanstead