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Common questions relating to Luton leasehold conveyancing

I am in need of some leasehold conveyancing in Luton. Before diving in I require certainty as to the number of years remaining on the lease.

Assuming the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in Luton - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details 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've recently bought a leasehold house in Luton. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. Strange as it may seem, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. A critical element of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure to have an up to date clear service charge receipt before completion of your purchase. If you have a mortgage this is likely to be a requirement of your lender.

If you purchase part way through an accounting year you may be liable for charges not yet demanded even if they relate to a period prior to your purchase. In such circumstances your conveyancer would normally arrange for the seller to set aside some money to cover their part of the period (usually called a service charge retention).

I am employed by a busy estate agency in Luton where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales put at risk due to short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Luton conveyancing firms. Could you clarify whether the vendor of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has been the owner 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 proposed purchaser can avoid having 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.

Alternatively, it may be possible 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.

Can you provide any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Luton with the aim of saving time on the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Luton can be bypassed where you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers conveyancers.
  • The majority freeholders or managing agents in Luton charge for providing management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should find out the actual amount of the charges. The management pack 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 Luton.
  • Some Luton leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. Any bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying 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 are supposed to have a share in the Management Company, you should make sure that you have the original share document. Obtaining a duplicate share certificate is often a lengthy formality and slows down many a Luton conveyancing deal. If a new share is required, do contact the company officers or managing agents (if applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but you should double-check by asking your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to to exchange contracts if the lease term is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you identify whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your home on the market for sale.

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete our sale of a £125000 apartment in Luton in nine days. The managing agents has quoted £372 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and previous years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge such fees for a flat conveyance in Luton?

    Luton conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes normally necessitates fees being levied by landlords agents :

    • Addressing conveyancing due diligence questions
    • Where consent is required before sale in Luton
    • Supplying insurance information
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your solicitor will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for Luton leasehold property is £350. For Luton conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are required to provide the information.

    Luton Conveyancing for Leasehold Flats - A selection of Queries Prior to Purchasing

      It is important to be aware whether a new roof is being put on or some other major work is due shortly to be shared by the leasehold owners and may well dramatically impact the level of the service fees or require a one time payment. This information is useful as a) areas could result in problems for the building as the communal areas may begin to deteriorate if maintenance are not paid for b) if the tenants have a dispute with the running of the building you will need to know about it How long is the Lease?

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Luton