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Questions and Answers: Woodlands leasehold conveyancing

Jane (my partner) and I may need to let out our Woodlands 1st floor flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We instructed a Woodlands conveyancing practice in 2001 but they have since shut and we did not think at the time get any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

A lease governs the relationship between the landlord and you the leaseholder; specifically, it will set out if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. The majority of leases in Woodlands do not contain an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the property. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a copy of the tenancy agreement.

Looking forward to sign contracts shortly on a leasehold property in Woodlands. Conveyancing lawyers have said that they report fully tomorrow. What should I be looking out for?

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

  • The physical extent of the premises. This will be the flat itself but may include a loft or basement if applicable.
  • Are you allowed to have a pet in the flat?
  • You should have a good understanding of the insurance provisions
  • Changes to the flat (alterations and additions)
  • The landlord’s rights to access the flat you be made aware that your landlord has rights of access and I know how much notice s/he must provide.
  • Whether the landlord has obligations to ensure rights of quiet enjoyment over your property and do you know what it means in practice?
  • 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 Woodlands please enquire of your conveyancer in ahead of your conveyancing in Woodlands

  • I am looking at a couple of apartments in Woodlands both have about 50 years remaining on the lease term. Do I need to be concerned?

    There is no doubt about it. A leasehold apartment in Woodlands is a deteriorating asset as a result of the shortening lease. The nearer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it reduces the salability of the premises. For most purchasers and mortgage companies, leases with under eighty years become less and less marketable. On a more positive note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the property 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 premises 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.

    What advice can you give us when it comes to choosing a Woodlands conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

    If you are instructing a conveyancer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a Woodlands conveyancing practice) it is imperative 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 before you instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be useful:

    • What volume of lease extensions have they conducted in Woodlands in the last year?
  • What are the charges for lease extension work?

  • Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Woodlands with the aim of expediting the sale process?

    • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Woodlands can be avoided if you get in touch lawyers as soon as your agents start marketing the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
    • Many landlords or Management Companies in Woodlands levy fees for providing management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the fee that they propose to charge. The management information sought on or before finding a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The typical amount of time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most common cause of frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Woodlands.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the premises would they have required Landlord’s permission? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Woodlands leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or installing wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such alterations. Where you fail to have the paperwork to hand you should not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer in the first instance.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the Management Company, you should make sure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a new share certificate can be a lengthy process and slows down many a Woodlands conveyancing deal. Where a duplicate share certificate is needed, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this as soon as possible.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable verify this via your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is less than 75 years. It is therefore essential at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such issues? Can you recommend a Woodlands conveyancing firm to represent me?

    in cases where there is a missing freeholder or if there is dispute about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes you can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to decide the sum to be paid.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Woodlands residence 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 related to 1 flat. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 60.45 years.