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Questions and Answers: Rochford leasehold conveyancing

I have recently realised that I have 72 years remaining on my lease in Rochford. I am keen to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What are my options?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, 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 extended by the Court. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you have done all that could be expected to locate the freeholder. For most situations a specialist may be useful to try and locate and prepare an expert document which can be used as proof that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a conveyancer both on devolving into the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court covering Rochford.

I have just appointed agents to market my garden apartment in Rochford.Conveyancing lawyers have not yet been instructed but I have just had a half-yearly maintenance charge invoice – Do I pay up?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should discharge the invoice 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 managing agents 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. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Rochford. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

In a situation 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. Strange as it may seem, 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 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 long established estate agency in Rochford where we see a few leasehold sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Rochford conveyancing firms. Please can you confirm whether the vendor 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 start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser 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 has to be done prior to, or simultaneously with 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 purchaser.

What advice can you give us when it comes to choosing a Rochford conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?

When appointing a solicitor for lease extension works (regardless if they are a Rochford conveyancing firm) it is most important that they be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We recommend that you talk with several firms including non Rochford conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. Where the conveyancing practice is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be helpful:

  • How experienced is the practice with lease extension legislation?
  • How many lease extensions has the firm conducted in Rochford in the last 12 months?

  • Rochford Leasehold Conveyancing - A selection of Queries Prior to buying

      How many of the leaseholders are in arrears for their maintenance charge payments? Does this lease have in excess of 90 years remaining? Who are the managing agents?

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Rochford