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Questions and Answers: West Norwood leasehold conveyancing

My fiance and I may need to sub-let our West Norwood ground floor flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We instructed a West Norwood conveyancing firm in 2002 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to seek any guidance as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

A lease governs the relationship between the landlord and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will set out if subletting is not allowed, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. Most leases in West Norwood do not contain an absolute prevention of subletting – such a provision would undoubtedly devalue the property. In most cases there is a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a copy of the sublease.

Planning to exchange soon on a garden flat in West Norwood. Conveyancing lawyers assured me that they will have a report out to me within the next couple of days. What should I be looking out for?

The report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in West Norwood should include some of the following:

  • How long the lease is You should be advised as what happens when the lease ends, and aware of the importance of not letting the lease term falling below eighty years
  • Does the lease prevent you from renting out the flat, or having a home office for business
  • An explanation as to the provision in the lease to pay service charges - with regard to both the building, and the more general rights a leaseholder has
  • Repair and maintenance of the flat
  • I don't know whether the lease allows me to alter or improve anything in the flat - you should know whether it applies to all alterations or just structural alteration, and whether consent is required
  • The landlord’s obligations to repair and maintain the building. It is important that you know who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of every part of the building
  • What the implications are if you breach a clause of your lease? For details of the information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in West Norwood please enquire of your solicitor in advance of your conveyancing in West Norwood

  • What advice can you give us when it comes to appointing a West Norwood conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

    If you are instructing a property lawyer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a West Norwood conveyancing practice) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you speak with two or three firms including non West Norwood conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be useful:

    • If the firm is not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • What volume of lease extensions has the firm completed in West Norwood in the last twenty four months?

  • Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in West Norwood with the purpose of expediting the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in West Norwood can be reduced where you get in touch lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to collate the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ lawyers.
    • Some West Norwood 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 obtain bank and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is able to meet 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 there is a history of any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are settled prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be concerned about purchasing a property where there is an ongoing dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to pay 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 ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal details of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to present the dispute as historic rather than unsettled.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should ensure that you hold the original share document. Organising a new share certificate can be a lengthy formality and frustrates many a West Norwood home move. Where a reissued share certificate is necessary, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (if relevant) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • 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 conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is below 75 years. It is therefore important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your home on the market for sale.

  • All being well we will complete our sale of a £475000 garden flat in West Norwood in just under a week. The managing agents has quoted £348 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and previous years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge such fees for a flat conveyance in West Norwood?

    West Norwood conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes more often than not requires the buyer’s conveyancer submitting enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is not legally bound to address such questions the majority will be content to assist. They are at liberty invoice a reasonable administration fee for responding to questions or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average fee for the information that you are referring to is £350, in some situations it is in excess of £800. The management information fee invoiced by the landlord must be sent together with a synopsis of entitlements and obligations in respect of administration charges, otherwise the charge is not strictly payable. Reality however dictates that one has no option but to pay whatever is requested of you if you want to sell the property.

    I have given up negotiating a lease extension in West Norwood. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?

    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 LVT to determine the amount due.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement decision for a West Norwood premises is 172 Knollys Road in February 2012. On 13 September 2011 District Judge Guinan made a vesting order and the proceedings were transferred to the tribunal for the purpose of assessing the premium which was subsequently calculated to be £24,003 This case related to 4 flats. The unexpired term was 98.28 for 3 flats other than the garden flat which had 66.04 years remaining.