West Harrow leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s
I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in West Harrow. Before I set the wheels in motion I require certainty as to the remaining lease term.
If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in West Harrow - 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.
My wife and I purchased a leasehold flat in West Harrow. Conveyancing and Bank of Scotland mortgage are in place. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the freehold. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1995. The conveyancing solicitor in West Harrow who acted for me is not around.Any advice?
The first thing you should do is make enquiries of the Land Registry to make sure that this person is in fact the new freeholder. You do not need to instruct a West Harrow conveyancing solicitor to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. You should note that regardless, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.
I am looking at a couple of flats in West Harrow which have approximately fifty years left on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?
There is no doubt about it. A leasehold flat in West Harrow is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it adversely affects the marketability 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 premises 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 a residence 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 West Harrow conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend 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.
I've recently bought a leasehold flat in West Harrow. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?
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 a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in West Harrow where we have witnessed a number of flat sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local West Harrow conveyancing firms. Could you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?
As long as the seller has owned the lease 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. 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 prior to, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.
Alternatively, it may be possible to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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.
I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can a leaseholder make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal? Can you recommend a West Harrow conveyancing firm to represent me?
Absolutely. We are happy to put you in touch with a West Harrow conveyancing firm who can help.
An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a West Harrow property is flat 93b Welldon Crescent in May 2009. The Tribunals valuation for a 90-year lease extension of this fat was £13,171 This case related to 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 75.25 years.