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Questions and Answers: Mortimer leasehold conveyancing

I have just started marketing my ground floor apartment in Mortimer.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just received a quarterly service charge invoice – should I leave it to the buyer to sort out?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should discharge the service charge as normal because all ground rent and service charges will be apportioned on completion, so you will be reimbursed by the buyer for the period running from after the completion date to the next payment date. Most management companies will not acknowledge the buyer unless the service charges have been paid and are up to date so it is important for both buyer and seller for the seller to show that they are up to date. This will smooth the conveyancing process.

Back In 2000, I bought a leasehold flat in Mortimer. Conveyancing and Bank of Ireland mortgage are in place. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1996. The conveyancing solicitor in Mortimer who acted for me is not around.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to be sure that the individual purporting to own the freehold is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. There is no need to instruct a Mortimer conveyancing firm to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. You should note that regardless, even if this is the rightful freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a two flats in Mortimer which have about forty five years remaining on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold apartment in Mortimer is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The nearer the lease gets to its expiry date, the more it adversely affects the value of the premises. The majority of purchasers and lenders, leases with under 75 years become less and less marketable. On a more upbeat note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises 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 Mortimer conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend the lease You may find he or she is happy to negotiate informally and willing to consider your offer straight off, without having to involve anyone else. This will save you time and money and it could help you reach a lower price on the lease. 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.

I've recently bought a leasehold house in Mortimer. Do I have any liability for service charges for periods before completion of my purchase?

Where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous owner and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. It is an essential part 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).

All being well we will complete the sale of our £400000 flat in Mortimer next week. The landlords agents has quoted £324 for Landlord’s certificate, insurance certificate and 3 years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge exorbitant fees for a flat conveyance in Mortimer?

Mortimer conveyancing on leasehold apartments more often than not involves the purchaser’s solicitor sending enquiries for the landlord to answer. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to respond to these enquiries the majority will be willing to assist. They may levy a reasonable administration fee for answering enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average fee for the information that you are referring to is £350, in some situations it is above £800. The administration charge required by the landlord must be accompanied by a synopsis of rights and obligations in relation to administration fees, otherwise the invoice is technically not due. Reality however dictates that you have no option but to pay whatever is requested of you if you want to exchange contracts with the buyer.

Leasehold Conveyancing in Mortimer - Examples of Queries before Purchasing

    How long is the Lease? Is the freehold owned jointly by the leaseholders? The answer will be useful as a) areas can result in problems in the block as the common areas may begin to deteriorate where services remain unpaid b) if the tenants have an issue with the managing agents you will want to know about it

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in Mortimer