Top Five Questions relating to North West London leasehold conveyancing
Harry (my fiance) and I may need to sub-let our North West London 1st floor flat temporarily due to taking a sabbatical. We used a North West London conveyancing practice in 2004 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to seek any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?
The lease dictates the relationship between the landlord and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will set out if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The rule is that if the lease contains no specific ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. Most leases in North West London do not contain an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the property. Instead, there is usually simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a duplicate of the tenancy agreement.
I have recently realised that I have Sixty One years left on my lease in North West London. I now want to get lease extension but my freeholder is can not be found. What options are available to me?
If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be lengthened by the magistrate. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to track down the freeholder. For most situations an enquiry agent may be helpful to carry out a search and prepare an expert document to be used as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a solicitor in relation to proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court overseeing North West London.
I've found a house that appears to meet my requirements, at a reasonable figure which is making it all the more appealing. I have since found out that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in North West London. Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been appointed. Will they explain the issues?
Most houses in North West London are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in North West London so you should seriously consider looking for a North West London conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in dealing with leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a lessee you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions such as obtaining the landlord’sconsent to carry out changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the house is located on an estate. Your lawyer will report to you on the legal implications.
I've recently bought a leasehold flat in North West London. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?
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 be sure 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 a negotiator for a reputable estate agency in North West London where we have witnessed a few flat sales put at risk due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given inconsistent advice from local North West London conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can start 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 commence 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 for a lease extension. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed 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.
I bought a split level flat in North West London, conveyancing was carried out 9 years ago. Can you let me have an estimate of the premium that my landlord can legally expect in return for granting a renewal of my lease? Similar properties in North West London with a long lease are worth £238,000. The ground rent is £45 yearly. The lease ends on 21st October 2096
With only 75 years unexpired the likely cost is going to range between £9,500 and £11,000 plus professional fees.
The figure that we have given is a general guide to costs for extending a lease, but we are not able to provide a more accurate figure in the absence of comprehensive due diligence. You should not use the figures in tribunal or court proceedings. There may be additional issues that need to be considered and clearly you want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Neither should you move forward placing reliance on this information without first getting professional advice.