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Top Five Questions relating to Luton leasehold conveyancing

Jane (my partner) and I may need to rent out our Luton 1st floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Luton conveyancing firm in 2003 but they have since shut and we did not think at the time get any advice as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

Some leases for properties in Luton do contain a provision to say that subletting is only allowed with permission. The landlord cannot unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience suggests that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting consent.

I am looking at a two flats in Luton both have in the region of 50 years remaining on the lease term. Do I need to be concerned?

A lease is a right to use the premises for a prescribed time frame. As a lease gets shorter the saleability of the lease deteriorate and results in it becoming more expensive to acquire a lease extension. For this reason it is generally wise to increase the term of the lease. It is often difficulties arise selling premises with a short lease as mortgage lenders may be unwilling to lend money on properties of this type. Lease extension can be a difficult process. We recommend you get professional assistance from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this field

I am employed by a reputable estate agency in Luton where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Luton conveyancing firms. Please can you confirm whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension process for the buyer?

Provided that 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. This means that the buyer need not have to sit tight for 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 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.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Luton with the aim of speeding up the sale process?

  • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Luton can be reduced if you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the buyers lawyers.
  • The majority freeholders or Management Companies in Luton charge for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should find out the actual amount of the charges. The management information sought on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The typical amount of time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most frequent reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Luton.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s permission? Have you, for example laid down wooden flooring? Most leases in Luton state that internal structural alterations or installing wooden flooring calls for a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. Should you fail to have the approvals in place do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your lawyer in advance.
  • A minority of Luton leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, 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 should make it clear that the buyer is 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is a current dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to 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 ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to present the dispute as historic rather than unsettled.

  • If all goes to plan we aim to complete the sale of our £500000 maisonette in Luton on Monday in a week. The landlords agents has quoted £396 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and 3 years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge exorbitant fees for a leasehold conveyance in Luton?

    Luton conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes often necessitates the buyer’s solicitor sending enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to address these enquiries most will be willing to do so. They are at liberty invoice a reasonable administration fee for answering questions or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average costs for the paperwork that you are referring to is £350, in some cases it is in excess of £800. The management information fee demanded by the landlord must be sent together with a summary of rights and obligations in respect of administration charges, without which the charge is not strictly payable. In reality one has little choice but to pay whatever is requested of you should you wish to exchange contracts with the buyer.

    I bought a 2 bed flat in Luton, conveyancing having been completed half a dozen years ago. Can you work out an approximate cost of a lease extension? Corresponding properties in Luton with a long lease are worth £211,000. The ground rent is £45 per annum. The lease terminates on 21st October 2071

    With 50 years remaining on your lease the likely cost is going to span between £39,000 and £45,000 as well as legals.

    The figure above a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we are not able to supply the actual costs in the absence of comprehensive investigations. Do not use the figures in tribunal or court proceedings. There are no doubt additional issues that need to be considered and you obviously want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. You should not move forward based on this information before seeking the advice of a professional.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Luton