Frequently asked questions relating to Smithfield leasehold conveyancing
Due to sign contracts shortly on a basement flat in Smithfield. Conveyancing lawyers have said that they will have a report out to me within the next couple of days. Are there areas in the report that I should be focusing on?
The report on title for your leasehold conveyancing in Smithfield should include some of the following:
- Details of the parties to the lease, for example these could be the leaseholder (you), head lessor, freeholder
My wife and I purchased a leasehold house in Smithfield. Conveyancing and The Royal Bank of Scotland mortgage are in place. I have received a letter 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 1995. The conveyancing solicitor in Smithfield who acted for me is not around.Any advice?
The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to make sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is indeed the new freeholder. There is no need to instruct a Smithfield conveyancing lawyer to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for £3. You should note that regardless, even if this is the legitimate landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.
Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Smithfield. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to completion of my purchase?
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. However, 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 work for a reputable estate agency in Smithfield where we have witnessed a number of flat sales put at risk as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given contradictory information from local Smithfield conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can commence 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 start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer need not have 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 before, or simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.
Alternatively, it may be possible to agree the lease extension with the freeholder 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.
What are the common defects that you see in leases for Smithfield properties?
There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Smithfield. Most leases is drafted differently and drafting errors can result in certain clauses are missing. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:
- Repairing obligations to or maintain parts of the building
- A duty to insure the building
- A provision for the recovery of money spent for the benefit of another party.
- Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall
A defective lease can cause problems when trying to sell a property primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Accord Mortgages Ltd, Barnsley Building Society, and Godiva Mortgages Ltd all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease is defective they may refuse to grant the mortgage, forcing the purchaser to pull out.
Leasehold Conveyancing in Smithfield - Sample of Questions you should ask before buying
It is important to be aware whether fixing the lift or some other significant cost is due in the foreseeable future to be shared amongst the leasehold owners and will dramatically increase the the service fees or require a one time invoice.
How many of the leaseholders are in arrears for their service charge payments?
What prohibitions are contained in the Smithfield Lease?