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Frequently asked questions relating to Sawtry leasehold conveyancing

My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Sawtry. Conveyancing and Accord Mortgages Ltd mortgage organised. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1994. The conveyancing solicitor in Sawtry who previously acted has long since retired.What should I do?

The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to be sure that this person is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. It is not necessary to instruct a Sawtry conveyancing firm to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. You should note that in any event, even if this is the legitimate landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 no more than 6 years of rent can be collected.

I am looking at a two apartments in Sawtry which have in the region of fifty years unexpired on the leases. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There are no two ways about it. A leasehold flat in Sawtry is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it adversely affects the value of the property. The majority of buyers and banks, leases with under 75 years become less and less attractive. On a more positive 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 Sawtry conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending 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 any new 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 work for a reputable estate agent office in Sawtry where we have experienced a number of leasehold sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local Sawtry conveyancing firms. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can commence the lease extension process 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 buyer can avoid having to sit tight for 2 years for a lease extension. 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 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.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Sawtry with the intention of expediting the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Sawtry can be avoided where you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and ask them to collate the leasehold information needed by the buyers solicitors.
  • Many landlords or managing agents in Sawtry charge for supplying management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the actual amount of the charges. The management pack sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most common reason for frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Sawtry.
  • Some Sawtry leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. Any bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are financially capable of paying the yearly 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 purchasers or their lawyers.
  • If you have had conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved before the property is marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where a dispute is unresolved. You may need to swallow your pride and pay any arrears of service charge or settle the dispute prior to the buyers completing the purchase. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You will still have to reveal particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as over rather than unsettled.
  • 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 Sawtry conveyancing transaction. If a new share is necessary, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this at the earliest opportunity.

  • We expect to complete the sale of our £375000 flat in Sawtry in 8 days. The managing agents has quoted £348 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and previous years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge exorbitant fees for a flat conveyance in Sawtry?

    Sawtry conveyancing on leasehold apartments often requires the purchaser’s solicitor sending enquiries for the landlord to answer. Although the landlord is under no legal obligation to address these enquiries the majority will be content to do so. They are at liberty levy a reasonable administration fee for answering questions or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average fee for the paperwork that you are referring to is £350, in some cases it is in excess of £800. The administration charge required by the landlord must be accompanied by a synopsis of entitlements and obligations in respect of administration charges, otherwise the invoice is not strictly payable. In reality you have little choice but to pay whatever is demanded if you want to exchange contracts with the buyer.

    Sawtry Conveyancing for Leasehold Flats - Examples of Queries Prior to buying

      What is the yearly maintenance fee and ground rent? In the main the outlay for major works are not included within maintenance charges, albeit that a few managing agents in Sawtry ask leaseholders to pay into a sinking fund created for the specific intention of building a fund for major works. Are there any major works in the near future that will likely add a premium to the service fees?

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Sawtry