Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in March:

Leasehold conveyancing in March is more complex than freehold. Your home move will be smoother where you choose a lawyer with a wealth of experience of leasehold conveyancing in March and across next step up in loc. The lawyers we recommend have been approved by your lender so use our search tool to check.

Recently asked questions relating to March leasehold conveyancing

Frank (my husband) and I may need to rent out our March ground floor flat for a while due to a new job. We instructed a March conveyancing firm in 2003 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to get any advice as to whether the lease allows us to sublet. How do we find out?

Your lease governs relations between the landlord and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will indicate if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The rule is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in March do not contain strict prohibition on subletting – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the property. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly sending a duplicate of the sublease.

I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great price which is making it all the more appealing. I have just found out that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are issues buying a leasehold house in March. Conveyancing solicitors have are about to be instructed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in March ?

The majority of houses in March are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can help the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are purchasing in March so you should seriously consider shopping around for a March conveyancing solicitor and check that they are used to dealing with leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as obtaining the freeholder’spermission to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the property is part of an estate. Your conveyancer will appraise you on the various issues.

I work for a busy estate agency in March where we have experienced a few leasehold sales derailed due to short leases. I have been given inconsistent advice from local March conveyancing solicitors. Could you confirm whether the owner of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has owned the lease 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 wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or at the same time as completion of the disposal of the property.

Alternatively, it may be possible to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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 March with the aim of expediting the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in March can be bypassed where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold information needed by the buyers solicitors.
  • The majority freeholders or managing agents in March charge for providing management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the actual amount of the charges. The management pack can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most common cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in March.
  • If there is a history of conflict with your freeholder or managing agents it is very important that these are settled prior to the flat being marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a flat where there is an ongoing dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to pay any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to completion of the sale. 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 reveal the dispute as over rather than ongoing.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the Management Company, you should ensure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a duplicate share certificate is often a time consuming process and frustrates many a March home move. Where a duplicate share is necessary, you should approach the company director and secretary or managing agents (where relevant) for this as soon as possible.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years left on your lease but you should verify this by asking your lawyers. A buyer’s lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to where the remaining number of years is under 80 years. It is therefore 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.

  • What makes a March lease unacceptable for security purposes?

    There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in March. Most leases are individual and drafting errors can sometimes mean that certain clauses are wrong. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

    • Repairing obligations to or maintain parts of the property
    • A duty to insure the building
    • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
    • Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage

    A defective lease can cause issues when trying to sell a property as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. Yorkshire Building Society, The Mortgage Works, and Nottingham Building Society all have express conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease is problematic they may refuse to grant the mortgage, forcing the purchaser to withdraw.

    March Conveyancing for Leasehold Flats - Sample of Questions you should ask Prior to buying

      What prohibitions exist in the March Lease? How is the lease structured? In the main the outlay for major works are not included within maintenance charges, albeit that some managing agents in March obliged leasehold owners to pay into a sinking fund and this is used to offset against larger repairs or maintenance.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in March