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Recently asked questions relating to Woodlands leasehold conveyancing

I have just appointed agents to market my garden flat in Woodlands.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just had a half-yearly service charge invoice – Do I pay up?

The sensible thing to do is clear the invoice as normal because all ground rent and service charges will be apportioned on completion, so you will be reimbursed by the buyer for the period running from after the completion date to the next payment date. Most management companies will not acknowledge the buyer unless the service charges have been paid and are up to date so it is important for both buyer and seller for the seller to show that they are up to date. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

I own a leasehold flat in Woodlands. Conveyancing and Platform Home Loans Ltd 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 solicitor in Woodlands who previously acted has now retired.Do I pay?

The first thing you should do is make enquiries of the Land Registry to make sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the new freeholder. You do not need to incur the fees of a Woodlands conveyancing practitioner to do this as it can be done on-line for a few pound. You should note that in any event, 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 attracted to a two maisonettes in Woodlands both have in the region of 50 years unexpired on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold flat in Woodlands is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it reduces the marketability of the property. For most buyers and banks, leases with under eighty 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 property 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 Woodlands conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending 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 work for a busy estate agent office in Woodlands where we see a few leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local Woodlands conveyancing solicitors. Please can you confirm 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 been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to commence 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 before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

An alternative approach is to extend the lease informally by agreement with the landlord 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.

What are your top tips when it comes to appointing a Woodlands conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

When appointing a solicitor for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Woodlands conveyancing firm) it is most important that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We advise that you speak with two or three firms including non Woodlands 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:

  • Can they put you in touch with client in Woodlands who can give a testimonial?
  • What are the costs for lease extension work?

  • After years of correspondence we are unable to agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in Woodlands. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

    Most certainly. We can put you in touch with a Woodlands conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension decision for a Woodlands premises is Ground Floor Flat 91 Bath Road in May 2009. in a case where the freeholder could not be traced, the Brentford County Court ordered that the Lease be surrendered in return for the grant of a new lease of the Premises at a premium determined by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. The tribunal concluded that the price payable by the Applicant for the new lease of the premises be £15,900 This case was in relation to 1 flat. The unexpired term was 60.45 years.