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Recently asked questions relating to Smithfield leasehold conveyancing

Helen (my wife) and I may need to let out our Smithfield garden flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We instructed a Smithfield conveyancing firm in 2004 but they have closed and we did not think at the time get any advice as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

Your lease governs relations between the freeholder and you the flat owner; in particular, it will set out if subletting is prohibited, or permitted but only subject to certain conditions. The accepted inference is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. The majority of leases in Smithfield do not contain an absolute prevention of subletting – such a clause would undoubtedly devalue the property. In most cases there is simply a requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a copy of the tenancy agreement.

I have recently realised that I have 72 years unexpired on my lease in Smithfield. I now wish to extend my lease but my freeholder is absent. What should I do?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be lengthened by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to track down the landlord. On the whole a specialist should be helpful to conduct investigations and to produce a report to be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a solicitor both on devolving into the landlord’s absence and the application to the County Court covering Smithfield.

Looking forward to complete next month on a ground floor flat in Smithfield. Conveyancing lawyers assured me that they are sending me a report within the next couple of days. What should I be looking out for?

Your report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in Smithfield should include some of the following:

  • You should receive a copy of the lease
  • Details of the parties to the lease, for example these could be the leaseholder (you), head lessor, landlord
  • Are pets allowed in the flat?
  • Ground rent - how much and when you need to pay, and also know whether this is subject to change
  • You should have a good understanding of the insurance provisions
  • The landlord’s rights to access the flat you be made aware that your landlord has rights of access and I know how much notice s/he must provide.
  • The landlord’s obligations to repair and maintain the building. It is important that you know who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of every part of the building For details of the information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in Smithfield please ask your solicitor in ahead of your conveyancing in Smithfield

  • I am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in Smithfield where we see a number of flat sales derailed as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have received inconsistent advice from local Smithfield conveyancing firms. Could you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

    As long as the seller has been the owner 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 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 needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

    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.

    Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Smithfield from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

    • Much of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Smithfield can be avoided where you get in touch lawyers the minute your agents start marketing the property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information needed by the buyers lawyers.
    • The majority freeholders or Management Companies in Smithfield charge for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should find out the actual amount of the charges. The management information can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The typical amount of time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most common reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Smithfield.
  • In the event that you altered the property did you need the Landlord’s approval? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Smithfield state that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring require a licence issued by the Landlord acquiescing to such alterations. Should you dont have the paperwork in place you should not communicate with the landlord without checking with your lawyer first.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are settled before the property is put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be nervous about purchasing a flat where there is a current dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to discharge 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 ahead of the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is better to reveal the dispute as over rather than unresolved.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but you should verify this by asking your solicitors. A purchaser's lawyer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is less than 75 years. It is therefore important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I own a 2 bed flat in Smithfield, conveyancing formalities finalised half a dozen years ago. Can you let me have an estimated range of the fair premium for a lease extension? Equivalent flats in Smithfield with over 90 years remaining are worth £252,000. The average or mid-range amount of ground rent is £50 per annum. The lease expires on 21st October 2086

    With only 62 years left to run we estimate the premium for your lease extension to span between £19,000 and £22,000 plus professional fees.

    The suggested premium range that we have given is a general guide to costs for renewing a lease, but we are not able to provide a more accurate figure without more comprehensive due diligence. Do not use the figures in a Notice of Claim or as an informal offer. There are no doubt additional concerns that need to be considered and clearly you want to be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Please do not take any other action based on this information before seeking the advice of a professional.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Smithfield