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Questions and Answers: Westminster leasehold conveyancing

I am on look out for some leasehold conveyancing in Westminster. Before diving in I would like to find out the unexpired term of the lease.

If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in Westminster - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars 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 am hoping to sign contracts shortly on a ground floor flat in Westminster. Conveyancing solicitors assured me that they are sending me a report within the next couple of days. What should I be looking out for?

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

  • Details of the parties to the lease, for example these could be the leaseholder (you), head lessor, landlord
  • 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
  • Whether your lease has a provision for a sinking fund?
  • 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
  • Responsibility for repairing the window frames
  • What the implications are if you breach a clause of your lease? For details of the information to be included in your report on your leasehold property in Westminster please enquire of your lawyer in ahead of your conveyancing in Westminster

  • What are your top tips when it comes to finding a Westminster conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

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

    • What volume of lease extensions have they conducted in Westminster in the last twenty four months?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in Westminster who can give a testimonial?

  • Our conveyancer has advised that he intends to complete and exchange simultaneously on our sale of a £150000 flat in Westminster in 10 days. The freeholder has quoted £312 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate 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 often necessitates the buyer’s solicitor submitting enquiries for the landlord to answer. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to respond to these enquiries the majority will be willing to do so. They are entitled charge a reasonable administration fee for responding to enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average fee for the information that you are referring to is £350, in some cases it is above £800. The administration charge required by the landlord must be accompanied by a synopsis of rights and obligations in relation to administration fees, without which the invoice is not strictly payable. In reality you have little option but to pay whatever is requested of you if you want to complete the sale of your home.

    I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord for a lease extension without getting anywhere. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such matters? Can you recommend a Westminster conveyancing firm to assist?

    in cases where there is a absentee landlord or if there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant legislation it is possible to make an application to the LVT to determine the price.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Westminster premises 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 unexpired lease term was 56 years.

    What are the frequently found defects that you encounter in leases for Westminster properties?

    Leasehold conveyancing in Westminster is not unique. Most leases are individual and legal mistakes in the legal wording can sometimes mean that certain provisions are erroneous. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain elements of the building
    • 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 have difficulties when selling your property if you have a defective lease primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. HSBC Bank, Barnsley Building Society, and TSB 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 does not cover certain provisions they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the buyer to withdraw.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Westminster