Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Woodlands:

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Questions and Answers: Woodlands leasehold conveyancing

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only 72 years left on my lease in Woodlands. I need to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What options are available to me?

On the basis that you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be lengthened by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to track down the landlord. In some cases a specialist should be helpful to carry out a search and to produce a report to be used as proof that the landlord is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a conveyancer in relation to investigating the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing Woodlands.

Back In 2001, I bought a leasehold house in Woodlands. Conveyancing and Chelsea Building Society mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone saying they have taken over the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1993. The conveyancing practitioner in Woodlands who acted for me is not around.Do I pay?

The first thing you should do is make enquiries of 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 Woodlands conveyancing practitioner to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for £3. Rest assured that regardless, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I am a negotiator for a reputable estate agent office in Woodlands where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales put at risk due to short leases. I have been given contradictory information from local Woodlands conveyancing solicitors. Can you confirm whether the vendor of a flat can instigate the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

Provided that the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer can avoid having to wait 2 years for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or at the same time as 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 advice can you give us when it comes to finding a Woodlands conveyancing practice to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a solicitor for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Woodlands conveyancing firm) it is imperative that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you make enquires with two or three firms including non Woodlands conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be of use:

  • If the firm is not ALEP accredited then why not?
  • What are the costs for lease extension conveyancing?

  • Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Woodlands from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Woodlands can be bypassed where you appoint lawyers the minute you market your property and ask them to collate the leasehold documentation needed by the purchasers’ solicitors.
    • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s approval? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Woodlands state that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord acquiescing to such changes. If you dont have the paperwork in place you should not contact the landlord without checking with your lawyer in the first instance.
  • Some Woodlands leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are able to meet the annual service charge and the actual amount of the service charge should be quoted in the bank’s letter. You will therefore need to provide your estate agents with the service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved before the property is marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a flat where there is a current dispute. You may have to bite the bullet and pay 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 ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose details of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to present the dispute as historic as opposed to unresolved.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the Management Company, you should ensure that you are holding the original share certificate. Arranging a re-issued share certificate is often a lengthy formality and slows down many a Woodlands home move. Where a duplicate share is needed, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (if relevant) for this as soon as possible.

  • I am the registered owner of a ground floor flat in Woodlands. In the absence of agreement between myself and the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal make a decision on the amount due for the purchase of the freehold?

    Most certainly. We are happy to 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 affected 1 flat. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 60.45 years.