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Questions and Answers: Newbury leasehold conveyancing

I want to rent out my leasehold apartment in Newbury. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask him. Is permission from the freeholder required?

Notwithstanding that your last Newbury conveyancing solicitor is not available you can review your lease to check if you are permitted to let out the premises. The rule is that if the lease is non-specific, subletting is allowed. Quite often there is a prerequisite that you need to seek consent from your landlord or other appropriate person before subletting. The net result is you not allowed to sublet without prior permission. The consent should not be unreasonably refused ore delayed. If the lease does not allow you to sublet you will need to ask your landlord for their consent.

I've found a house that appears to be perfect, at a reasonable price which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently been informed that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Newbury. Conveyancing advisers have not yet been appointed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in Newbury ?

Most houses in Newbury are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local solicitor used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are purchasing in Newbury in which case you should be shopping around for a Newbury conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to transacting on leasehold houses. First you will need to check the unexpired lease term. Being a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions such as requiring the freeholder’sconsent to conduct alterations. You may also be required to pay a maintenance charge towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the house is part of an estate. Your conveyancer will appraise you on the various issues.

I work for a long established estate agent office in Newbury where we see a few leasehold sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Newbury conveyancing firms. Could you confirm whether the seller of a flat can commence the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

As long as the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser can avoid having to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed prior to, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

An alternative approach is 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 purchaser.

What are your top tips when it comes to appointing a Newbury conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a property lawyer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Newbury conveyancing practice) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We advise that you talk with two or three firms including non Newbury conveyancing practices before you instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions might be useful:

  • What volume of lease extensions has the firm completed in Newbury in the last year?
  • What are the costs for lease extension work?

  • Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Newbury with the aim of expediting the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Newbury can be bypassed where you instruct lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold information which will be required by the buyers representatives.
    • Many landlords or managing agents in Newbury charge for providing management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. 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 usual reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Newbury.
  • A minority of Newbury 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 put in hand 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If you have had any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property 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 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 details of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as over as opposed to ongoing.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should make sure that you hold the original share certificate. Obtaining a re-issued share certificate can be a lengthy process and frustrates many a Newbury conveyancing transaction. If a new share is needed, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where relevant) for this sooner rather than later.

  • Leasehold Conveyancing in Newbury - A selection of Questions you should consider Prior to Purchasing

      Is anyone aware of any major works in the near future that could add a premium to the maintenance fees? How much is the service charge and ground rent on the flat? What is the name of the managing agents?

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Newbury