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Seaham leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

My partner and I may need to rent out our Seaham 1st floor flat for a while due to taking a sabbatical. We used a Seaham conveyancing firm in 2004 but they have closed and we did not have the foresight to seek any guidance as to whether the lease prohibits the subletting of the flat. How do we find out?

Some leases for properties in Seaham do contain a provision to say that subletting is only permitted with prior consent from the landlord. The landlord is not entitled to unreasonably refuse but, in such cases, they would need to see references. Experience suggests that problems are usually caused by unsatisfactory tenants rather than owner-occupiers and for that reason you can expect the freeholder to take up the references and consider them carefully before granting consent.

Back In 2004, I bought a leasehold house in Seaham. Conveyancing and Skipton Building Society mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone saying they have taken over the reversionary interest in the property. It included a demand for arrears of ground rent dating back to 1993. The conveyancing solicitor in Seaham who previously acted has long since retired.What should I do?

First make enquiries of HMLR to make sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to incur the fees of a Seaham conveyancing practitioner to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for less than a fiver. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

Last month I purchased a leasehold property in Seaham. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to 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. 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).

I am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in Seaham where we have experienced a few flat sales jeopardised due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Seaham conveyancing solicitors. Could you confirm whether the owner of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities 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 start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the proposed purchaser need not have to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

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.

Completion in due on the sale of our £200000 flat in Seaham next week. The freeholder has quoted £384 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and 3 years statements of service charge. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge an administration fee for a flat conveyance in Seaham?

Seaham conveyancing on leasehold apartments often involves the buyer’s lawyer sending questions for the landlord to answer. Although the landlord is not legally bound to address such questions the majority will be willing to do so. They are entitled charge a reasonable administration fee for responding to questions or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average fee for the information that you are referring to is £350, in some situations it is in excess of £800. The management information fee required by the landlord must be accompanied by a synopsis of rights and obligations in relation to administration charges, otherwise the invoice is not strictly payable. In reality you have no option but to pay whatever is demanded if you want to complete the sale of your home.

Seaham Conveyancing for Leasehold Flats - Examples of Queries before Purchasing

    How much is the ground rent and service charge? It would be wise to discover if there are any onerous prohibitions in the lease. By way of example plenty of leases prohibit pets being allowed in certain buildings in Seaham. If you love the flatin Seaham yet your cat can’t move with you then you will be faced difficult compromise. Does the lease have in excess of 80 years unexpired?

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in Seaham