Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in St James:

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Top Five Questions relating to St James leasehold conveyancing

Expecting to exchange soon on a ground floor flat in St James. Conveyancing lawyers inform me that they report fully tomorrow. What should I be looking out for?

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

  • Details of the parties to the lease, for example these could be the leaseholder (you), head lessor, landlord
  • You must be told what counts as a Nuisance in the lease
  • You should have a good understanding of the insurance provisions
  • Changes to the flat (alterations and additions)
  • I don't know whether the lease allows me to alter or improve anything in the flat - you should know whether it applies to all alterations or just structural alteration, and whether consent is required
  • Responsibility for repairing the window frames
  • What the implications are if you breach a clause of your lease? For a comprehensive list of information to be contained in your report on your leasehold property in St James please enquire of your lawyer in advance of your conveyancing in St James

  • I am hoping to put an offer on a small detached house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently been informed that it's a leasehold as opposed to freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns purchasing a leasehold house in St James. Conveyancing solicitors have are about to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

    The majority of houses in St James are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in St James so you should seriously consider shopping around for a St James conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they are used to transacting on leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the unexpired lease term. As a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease will likely included provisions such as requiring the freeholder’sconsent to carry out changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the house is located on an estate. Your lawyer should advise you fully on all the issues.

    I've recently bought a leasehold property in St James. Am I liable to pay service charges for periods before my ownership?

    In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. Strange as it may seem, 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).

    Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in St James from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

    • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in St James can be bypassed where you get in touch lawyers as soon as you market your property and ask them to put together the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
    • A minority of St James leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, you should notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain bank and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is financially capable of paying the yearly service charge and the actual amount of the service charge should be quoted in the bank’s letter. You will therefore need to provide your estate agents with the service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If you have had conflict with your landlord or managing agents it is essential that these are settled prior to the flat being marketed. 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 discharge 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 details of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is clearly preferable to present the dispute as over rather than unsettled.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should make sure that you have the original share certificate. Arranging a new share certificate is often a lengthy formality and slows down many a St James conveyancing transaction. If a new share is required, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where relevant) for this sooner rather than later.
  • You believe that you know the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable double-check by asking your conveyancers. A purchaser's lawyer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the lease term is less than 75 years. In the circumstances it is important at an as soon as possible that you consider whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • Completion in due on the disposal of our £275000 garden flat in St James in 8 days. The management company has quoted £372 for Certificate of Compliance, building insurance schedule and previous years statements of service charge. Is the landlord entitled to charge exorbitant fees for a flat conveyance in St James?

    For the majority of leasehold sales in St James conveyancing will involve, queries regarding the management of a building inevitably needing to be answered directly by the freeholder or its agent, this includes :

    • Completing pre-exchange questions
    • Where consent is required before sale in St James
    • Copies of the building insurance and schedule
    • Deeds of covenant upon sale
    • Registering of the assignment of the change of lessee after a sale
    Your conveyancer will have no control over the level of the charges for this information but the average costs for the information for St James leasehold premises is £350. For St James conveyancing transactions it is customary for the seller to pay for these costs. The landlord or their agents are under no legal obligation to answer such questions most will be willing to do so - albeit often at exorbitant prices where the fees bear little relation to the work involved. Unfortunately there is no law that requires fixed charges for administrative tasks. Neither is there any legal time frame by which they are required to supply the information.

    I have tried to negotiate informally with with my landlord for a lease extension without any joy. Can the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal adjudicate on such issues? Can you recommend a St James conveyancing firm to assist?

    Most definitely. We can put you in touch with a St James conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension case for a St James property is Flats 12A & 19, Evelyn Mansions Carlisle Place in June 2009. The Tribunal held that the price to be paid for the new lease of Flat 12A is £168,824, For the other flat the price was set at £169,110 This case related to 2 flats. The unexpired lease term was 56 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in St James