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West Green leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

There are only 68 years left on my flat in West Green. I now wish to get lease extension but my landlord is missing. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply 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 Court. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to track down the freeholder. For most situations an enquiry agent may be helpful to try and locate and to produce a report to be used as evidence that the landlord is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a conveyancer both on investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering West Green.

I've found a house that seems to meet my requirements, at a reasonable figure which is making it more attractive. I have since found out that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I would have thought that there are issues purchasing a house with a leasehold title in West Green. Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been appointed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in West Green ?

The majority of houses in West Green are freehold and not leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. We note that you are purchasing in West Green in which case you should be shopping around for a West Green conveyancing solicitor and check that they have experience in transacting on leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. As a leaseholder you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions for example requiring the landlord’sconsent to conduct changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the house is located on an estate. Your conveyancer will appraise you on the various issues.

I've recently bought a leasehold property in West Green. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

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. 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).

What advice can you give us when it comes to finding a West Green conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a West Green conveyancing practice) it is essential that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We recommend that you make enquires with several firms including non West Green conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be helpful:

  • How many lease extensions has the firm conducted in West Green in the last year?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in West Green who can give a testimonial?

  • Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in West Green with the purpose of expediting the sale process?

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in West Green can be avoided if you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold information needed by the buyers lawyers.
    • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s approval? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in West Green state that internal structural alterations or addition of wooden flooring require a licence from the Landlord consenting to such alterations. If you dont have the paperwork to hand you should not contact the landlord without checking with your conveyancer first.
  • A minority of West Green leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should 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 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If you have had any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved before the property is marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is an ongoing dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and 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 ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as historic as opposed to ongoing.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable verify this by asking your solicitors. A purchaser's conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years 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.

  • My wife and I have hit a brick wall in trying to purchase the freehold in West Green. Can this matter be resolved via the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal?

    You certainly can. We can put you in touch with a West Green conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement matter before the tribunal for a West Green flat is 61 Clinton Road in April 2012. Following a vesting order Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court under section 26 of the Leasehold Reform,Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 on 5th July 2011 the Tribunal decided that the price that the Applicant for the freehold interest should pay is £17,000 This case related to 2 flats. The remaining number of years on the lease was 73.88 years.