Westminster leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s
There are only 72 years unexpired on my lease in Westminster. I am keen to get lease extension but my freeholder is can not be found. 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 enable the lease to be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the landlord. In some cases an enquiry agent may be useful to conduct investigations and to produce a report to be accepted by the court as proof that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer in relation to investigating the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court overseeing Westminster.
I own a leasehold flat in Westminster. Conveyancing and The Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone saying they have taken over the freehold. It included a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1993. The conveyancing practitioner in Westminster who previously acted has long since retired.Do I pay?
The first thing you should do is contact HMLR to make sure that this person is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to incur the fees of a Westminster conveyancing lawyer to do this as it can be done on-line for less than a fiver. You should note that regardless, even if this is the legitimate landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.
I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Westminster. Do I have any liability for 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. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. A critical element 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).
If all goes to plan we aim to complete our sale of a £500000 flat in Westminster next week. The managing agents has quoted £336 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and 3 years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge an administration fee for a flat conveyance in Westminster?
Westminster conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes normally necessitates the purchaser’s conveyancer sending enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to answer such questions the majority will be willing to do so. They are at liberty invoice a reasonable charge for answering questions or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average fee for the information that you are referring to is £350, in some cases it exceeds £800. The administration charge required by the landlord must be sent together with a summary of rights and obligations in respect of administration fees, without which the charge is technically not due. In reality you have little option but to pay whatever is demanded should you wish to complete the sale of your home.
I have had difficulty in trying to purchase the freehold in Westminster. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on premiums?
You certainly can. We can put you in touch with a Westminster conveyancing firm who can help.
An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Westminster residence is Flats 12A & 19, Evelyn Mansions Carlisle Place in June 2009. The Tribunal held that the price to be paid for the new lease of Flat 12A is £168,824, For the other flat the price was set at £169,110 This case related to 2 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 56 years.
What makes a Westminster lease unmortgageable?
Leasehold conveyancing in Westminster is not unique. All leases are unique and drafting errors can result in certain sections are erroneous. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:
- A provision to repair to or maintain elements of the property
- Insurance obligations
- A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
- Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall
You could encounter difficulties when selling your property if you have a defective lease as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Santander, The Mortgage Works, and Platform Home Loans Ltd all have express conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. Where a lender has been advised by their lawyers that the lease is problematic they may refuse to provide security, obliging the buyer to withdraw.