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Frequently asked questions relating to Totnes leasehold conveyancing

I have just appointed agents to market my basement apartment in Totnes.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just received a yearly maintenance charge invoice – what should I do?

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 management companies 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.

I own a leasehold house in Totnes. Conveyancing and Barclays mortgage are in place. 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 solicitor in Totnes who previously acted has long since retired.Do I pay?

The first thing you should do is make enquiries of the Land Registry to be sure that the individual purporting to own the freehold is indeed the registered owner of the freehold reversion. You do not need to incur the fees of a Totnes conveyancing solicitor to do this as you can do this on the Land Registry website for a few pound. You should note that regardless, even if this is the rightful landlord, under the Limitation Act 1980 the limitation period for recovery of ground rent is six years.

I am attracted to a two apartments in Totnes both have in the region of forty five years remaining on the leases. Do I need to be concerned?

A lease is a legal document that entitles you to use the premises for a period of time. As a lease gets shorter the marketability of the lease deteriorate and results in it becoming more expensive to extend the lease. This is why it is often a good idea to increase the term of the lease. Sometimes it is difficult to sell a property with a short lease because mortgage lenders may be unwilling to lend money on properties of this type. Lease extension can be a protracted process. We recommend you seek professional assistance from a solicitor and surveyor with experience in this area

I am a negotiator for a reputable estate agent office in Totnes where we see a few leasehold sales derailed due to short leases. I have been given conflicting advice from local Totnes conveyancing firms. Please can you shed some light as to whether the vendor of a flat can commence 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 commence 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 simultaneously with completion of the disposal of the property.

An alternative approach is 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 buyer.

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Totnes from the perspective of speeding up the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the frustration in leasehold conveyancing in Totnes can be bypassed if you get in touch lawyers as soon as your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ lawyers.
  • Many freeholders or managing agents in Totnes levy fees for providing management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the actual amount of the charges. The management pack sought on or before finding a buyer, thus accelerating the process. The typical amount of time it takes to obtain the necessary information is three weeks. It is the most frequent cause of delay in leasehold conveyancing in Totnes.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s approval? In particular have you laid down wooden flooring? Totnes leases often stipulate that internal structural alterations or installing wooden flooring necessitate a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. Should you fail to have the paperwork in place do not communicate with the landlord without checking with your solicitor in advance.
  • A minority of Totnes leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers obtain financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is able to meet 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 actual amount of the service charge so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their solicitors.
  • If you are supposed to have a share in the Management Company, you should make sure that you are holding the original share document. Arranging a re-issued share certificate is often a time consuming process and slows down many a Totnes conveyancing transaction. Where a duplicate share certificate is needed, do contact the company officers or managing agents (if applicable) for this as soon as possible.

  • Leasehold Conveyancing in Totnes - A selection of Questions you should consider before buying

      How much is the ground rent and service charge? You should be aware if it is no more than eighty years it will impact the salability of the apartment. It is worth checking with your lender that they are happy with residual term of the lease. A short lease means that you will probably need a lease extension sooner rather than later and you need to have some idea of how much this would cost. Remember, in most cases you will be be obliged to have been the owner of the premises for two years before you are eligible to exercise a lease extension. Does the lease contain onerous restrictions?

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Totnes