Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Thatcham:

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Thatcham leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Back In 2005, I bought a leasehold house in Thatcham. Conveyancing and National Westminster Bank mortgage went though with no issue. A letter has just been received from someone claiming to own the freehold. Attached was a ground rent demand for rent dating back to 1994. The conveyancing practitioner in Thatcham who acted for me is not around.Any advice?

The first thing you should do is contact the Land Registry to make sure that this person is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. It is not necessary to incur the fees of a Thatcham conveyancing lawyer to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for £3. You should note that in any event, even if this is the legitimate freeholder, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

Last month I purchased a leasehold flat in Thatcham. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

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).

I work for a long established estate agency in Thatcham where we see a few leasehold sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have received contradictory information from local Thatcham conveyancing solicitors. Can you clarify whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension formalities for the purchaser on completion of the sale?

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. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser need not have to wait 2 years to extend their lease. 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 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.

Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Thatcham from the point of view of speeding up the sale process?

  • Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Thatcham can be reduced where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start marketing the property and ask them to collate the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ lawyers.
  • Many freeholders or managing agents in Thatcham levy fees for supplying management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management information sought as soon as you have a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The average time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most common cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in Thatcham.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s approval? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Thatcham leases often stipulate that internal structural changes or laying down wooden flooring necessitate a licence from the Landlord approving such works. Should you dont have the paperwork to hand do not contact the landlord without contacting your solicitor before hand.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the freehold, you should make sure that you have the original share document. Organising a duplicate share certificate can be a time consuming formality and slows down many a Thatcham conveyancing deal. If a reissued share certificate is required, do contact the company officers or managing agents (where relevant) 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 by asking your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to where the lease term is less than 80 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term for your property needs extending. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your home on the market for sale.

  • Are there common problems that you see in leases for Thatcham properties?

    There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Thatcham. All leases is drafted differently and legal mistakes in the legal wording can result in certain clauses are not included. For example, if your lease is missing any of the following, it could be defective:

    • A provision to repair to or maintain elements of the premises
    • Insurance obligations
    • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
    • Service charge per centages that don't add up correctly leaving a shortfall

    A defective lease will likely cause issues when trying to sell a property as they can affect a potential buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage. HSBC Bank, Leeds Building Society, and Bank of Ireland all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. Where a lender has been advised by their lawyers that the lease does not cover certain provisions they may refuse to provide security, forcing the purchaser to pull out.

    I invested in buying a studio flat in Thatcham, conveyancing having been completed half a dozen years ago. How much will my lease extension cost? Comparable flats in Thatcham with over 90 years remaining are worth £213,000. The ground rent is £55 yearly. The lease ends on 21st October 2080

    With 58 years unexpired we estimate the premium for your lease extension to range between £27,600 and £31,800 as well as plus your own and the landlord's "reasonable" professional fees.

    The figure above a general guide to costs for extending a lease, but we are not able to advice on the actual costs in the absence of comprehensive investigations. Do not use this information in tribunal or court proceedings. There are no doubt other concerns that need to be considered and clearly you should be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. You should not move forward based on this information without first seeking the advice of a professional.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Thatcham