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Top Five Questions relating to Whitechapel leasehold conveyancing

There are only 68 years remaining on my lease in Whitechapel. I am keen to extend my lease but my landlord is missing. What are my options?

On the basis that 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 enable the lease to be granted an extra 90 years by the Court. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to locate the landlord. For most situations a specialist should be useful to try and locate and prepare an expert document which can be used as proof that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is advisable to get professional help from a property lawyer both on investigating the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court covering Whitechapel.

My wife and I purchased a leasehold flat in Whitechapel. Conveyancing and Nottingham Building Society mortgage organised. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the reversionary interest in the property. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1998. The conveyancing practitioner in Whitechapel who acted for me is not around.Do I pay?

First make enquiries of the Land Registry to be sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is in fact the new freeholder. It is not necessary to incur the fees of a Whitechapel conveyancing lawyer to do this as it can be done on-line for less than a fiver. Rest assured that regardless, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I work for a long established estate agent office in Whitechapel where we see a few leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given contradictory information from local Whitechapel conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

Provided that the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to kick-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 to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

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.

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Whitechapel from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Whitechapel can be reduced if you get in touch lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
  • The majority landlords or Management Companies in Whitechapel charge for supplying management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for as soon as you have a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most usual reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Whitechapel.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved before the property is marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a flat where a dispute is unsettled. 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 prior to 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 clearly preferable to present the dispute as over as opposed to unsettled.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share certificate. Organising a replacement share certificate is often a time consuming process and slows down many a Whitechapel conveyancing deal. If a reissued share is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You believe that you know the number of years left on your lease but it would be advisable double-check via your solicitors. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to to exchange contracts if the remaining number of years is under 75 years. It is therefore important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • After years of correspondence we are unable to agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Whitechapel. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?

    in cases where there is a missing freeholder or where there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the LVT to arrive at the premium.

    An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement matter before the tribunal for a Whitechapel residence is 1-41 Royal Tower Lodge 40 Cartwright Street in April 2013. the tribunal adding the agreed value of capitalised ground rents and the reversion the price to be paid for the freehold was £1,187,000 This case was in relation to 41 flats. The unexpired lease term was 107 years.

    When it comes to leasehold conveyancing in Whitechapel what are the most frequent lease problems?

    There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Whitechapel. All leases are individual and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain sections are not included. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

    • Repairing obligations to or maintain parts of the building
    • A duty to insure the building
    • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
    • Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall

    A defective lease will likely cause issues when trying to sell a property as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. National Westminster Bank, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, and Godiva Mortgages Ltd all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease does not cover certain provisions they may refuse to grant the mortgage, obliging the purchaser to withdraw.