Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in South London:

While any conveyancing practice can theoretically handle your leasehold conveyancing in South London, your mortgage provider may unwilling to work with them if the firm are not on their list of approved solicitors for conveyancing

Top Five Questions relating to South London leasehold conveyancing

I have just started marketing my 2 bed flat in South London.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just received a quarterly maintenance charge demand – Do I pay up?

Your conveyancing lawyer is likely to suggest that you should clear the invoice as normal because all ground rent and service charges will be apportioned on completion, so you will be reimbursed by the buyer for the period running from after the completion date to the next payment date. Most managing agents will not acknowledge the buyer unless the service charges have been paid and are up to date so it is important for both buyer and seller for the seller to show that they are up to date. Having a clear account will assist your cause and will leave you no worse off financially.

Back In 2007, I bought a leasehold house in South London. Conveyancing and Platform Home Loans Ltd mortgage went though with no issue. I have received a letter from someone claiming to own the freehold. It included a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1998. The conveyancing practitioner in South London who acted for me is not around.Any advice?

The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to be sure that the individual claiming to own the freehold is in fact the registered owner of the freehold reversion. It is not necessary to instruct a South London conveyancing solicitor to do this as it can be done on-line for £3. Rest assured that in any event, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I work for a long established estate agency in South London where we see a few flat sales put at risk due to short leases. I have received conflicting advice from local South London conveyancing firms. Please can you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

Provided that 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 needs to be completed prior to, or at the same time as 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 purchaser.

What advice can you give us when it comes to appointing a South London conveyancing firm to deal with our lease extension?

If you are instructing a conveyancer for your lease extension (regardless if they are a South London conveyancing practice) it is imperative that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of conveyancing. We recommend that you talk with two or three firms including non South London conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then so much the better. Some following of questions could be useful:

  • If they are not ALEP accredited then what is the reason?
  • Can they put you in touch with client in South London who can give a testimonial?

  • Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in South London from the point of view of expediting the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in South London can be avoided if you instruct lawyers as soon as you market your property and request that they start to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
    • The majority freeholders or Management Companies in South London levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold property. You or your lawyers should discover the fee that they propose to charge. The management information sought on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The typical amount of time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most frequent cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in South London.
  • If you have had conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved prior to the flat being put on the market. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is a current dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to pay any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled ahead of 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 historic rather than unsettled.
  • If you hold a share in a the Management Company, you should ensure that you have the original share document. Arranging a replacement share certificate can be a lengthy formality and frustrates many a South London conveyancing transaction. If a reissued share certificate is necessary, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where applicable) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You believe that you know the number of years left on your lease but it would be advisable double-check via your solicitors. A buyer’s lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you identify whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I have attempted and failed to negotiate with my landlord to extend my lease without success. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such issues? Can you recommend a South London conveyancing firm to act on my behalf?

    if there is a absentee freeholder or where there is disagreement about what the lease extension should cost, under the relevant legislation it is possible to make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to calculate the amount due.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a South London flat is Flat B 10 Grove Avenue in October 2013. Following a vesting order Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court 3rd July 2013 The tribunal determines that the premium payable for the lease extension was £36,215.00 This case affected 1 flat. The unexpired term was 65.21 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in South London