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Questions and Answers: South East London leasehold conveyancing

I am in need of some leasehold conveyancing in South East London. Before I get started I would like to find out the remaining lease term.

If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and almost all are in South East London - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

I only have Seventy years left on my lease in South East London. I now wish to get lease extension but my landlord is missing. What options are available to me?

On the basis that you meet the appropriate requirements, 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 enable the lease to be granted an extra 90 years by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the lessor. For most situations a specialist would be useful to conduct investigations and to produce an expert document which can be used as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer both on proving the landlord’s absence and the vesting order request to the County Court covering South East London.

I today plan to offer on a house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great price which is making it more attractive. I have since been informed that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are issues purchasing a leasehold house in South East London. Conveyancing advisers have are soon to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in South East London are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can help the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in South East London so you should seriously consider looking for a South East London conveyancing solicitor and check that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. Being a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as obtaining the freeholder’sconsent to carry out alterations. You may also be required to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your lawyer will advise you fully on all the issues.

I am tempted by the attractive purchase price for a two apartments in South East London both have approximately 50 years unexpired on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

A lease is a legal document that entitles you to use the property for a period of time. As the lease shortens the marketability of the lease reduces and it becomes more expensive to extend the lease. For this reason it is often a good idea to increase the term of the lease. More often than not it is difficult to sell a property with a short lease as mortgage lenders less inclined to grant a loan on properties of this type. Lease enfranchisement can be a difficult process. We recommend you get professional assistance from a conveyancer and surveyor with experience in this area

I am employed by a reputable estate agent office in South East London where we have witnessed a few leasehold sales jeopardised as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given contradictory information from local South East London conveyancing solicitors. Please can you clarify whether the seller of a flat can start the lease extension process 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 kick-start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the proposed purchaser 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 has to be done 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.

I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal decide on such issues? Can you recommend a South East London conveyancing firm to help?

You certainly can. We can put you in touch with a South East London conveyancing firm who can help.

An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a South East London residence is 20 Avonwick Road in July 2013. The Tribunal was dealing with an application under Section 26 of the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 for a determination of the freehold value of the property. It was concluded that the price to be paid was Fifteen Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy (£15,970) divided as to £8,200 for Flat 20 and £7,770 for Flat 20A This case was in relation to 1 flat. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 73.26 years.

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in South East London