Questions and Answers: South West London leasehold conveyancing
Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only Sixty One years unexpired on my flat in South West London. I now wish to get lease extension but my landlord is absent. What should I do?
On the basis that 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 enable the lease to be lengthened by the Court. However, you will be required to demonstrate that you have made all reasonable attempts to locate the freeholder. On the whole an enquiry agent would be useful to try and locate and to produce an expert document to be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder is indeed missing. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer in relation to devolving into the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court overseeing South West London.
I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that appears to be perfect, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently discovered that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns buying a house with a leasehold title in South West London. Conveyancing solicitors have not yet been instructed. Will they explain the issues?
The majority of houses in South West London are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. We note that you are purchasing in South West London in which case you should be looking for a South West London conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to dealing with leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a leaseholder you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as obtaining the landlord’sconsent to conduct alterations. It may be necessary to pay a maintenance charge towards the maintenance of the estate where the property is part of an estate. Your lawyer should advise you fully on all the issues.
I am looking at a couple of apartments in South West London which have approximately forty five years left on the lease term. Do I need to be concerned?
There are no two ways about it. A leasehold flat in South West London is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it adversely affects the value of the property. The majority of buyers and mortgage companies, leases with under 75 years become less and less marketable. On a more upbeat note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of premises with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with South West London conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. A more straightforward and quicker method of extending would be to contact your landlord directly and sound him out on the prospect of extending the lease You may find he or she is happy to negotiate informally and willing to consider your offer straight off, without having to involve anyone else. This will save you time and money and it could help you reach a lower price on the lease. You need to ensure that any new terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.
I've recently bought a leasehold flat in South West London. 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 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. It is an essential part 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).
Completion in due on the disposal of our £500000 flat in South West London in nine days. The management company has quoted £396 for Certificate of Compliance, insurance certificate and previous years service charge statements. Is it legal for a freeholder to charge an administration fee for a flat conveyance in South West London?
South West London conveyancing on leasehold maisonettes often requires the buyer’s lawyer submitting enquiries for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is not legally bound to respond to such questions the majority will be content to do so. They are entitled invoice a reasonable charge for answering questions or supplying documentation. There is no upper cap for such fees. The average fee for the paperwork that you are referring to is £350, in some situations it exceeds £800. The administration charge demanded by the landlord must be accompanied by a summary of rights and obligations in relation to administration charges, without which the charge is not strictly payable. Reality however dictates that you have no choice but to pay whatever is requested of you if you want to sell the property.
I am the registered owner of a second floor flat in South West London. Given that I can not reach agreement with the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the premium due for a lease extension?
Most definitely. We are happy to put you in touch with a South West London conveyancing firm who can help.
An example of a Freehold Enfranchisement case for a South West London residence is 78 & 80 Newport Road in January 2013. the Tribunal concluded that the premium to be paid by the leaseholder in respect of the freehold reversion is £23,105 This case related to 2 flats. The the unexpired residue of the current lease was 71.63 years.