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Questions and Answers: Totnes leasehold conveyancing

Having had my offer accepted I require leasehold conveyancing in Totnes. Before I get started I would like to find out the unexpired term of the lease.

If the lease is recorded at the land registry - and almost all are in Totnes - then the leasehold title will always include the short particulars of the lease, namely the date; the term; and the original parties. From a conveyancing perspective such details then enable any prospective buyer and lender to confirm that any lease they are looking at is the one relevant to that title.For any other purpose, such as confirming how long the term was granted for and calculating what is left, then the register should be sufficient on it's own.

I wish to let out my leasehold flat in Totnes. Conveyancing solicitor who did the purchase is retired - so can't ask her. Is permission from the freeholder required?

The lease governs relations between the landlord and you the leaseholder; in particular, it will say if subletting is not allowed, or permitted but only subject to certain caveats. The rule is that if the lease contains no expres ban or restriction, subletting is allowed. The majority of leases in Totnes do not contain subletting altogether – such a clause would adversely affect the market value the property. In most cases there is a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a copy of the tenancy agreement.

I today plan to offer on a house that seems to meet my requirements, at a reasonable price which is making it more attractive. I have just been informed that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I would have thought that there are issues purchasing a house with a leasehold title in Totnes. Conveyancing advisers have are about to be instructed. Will they explain the issues?

The majority of houses in Totnes are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can assist with the conveyancing process. it is apparent that you are buying in Totnes so you should seriously consider looking for a Totnes conveyancing practitioner 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 leaseholder you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease will likely included provisions such as obtaining the landlord’spermission to carry out alterations. It may be necessary to pay a service charge towards the maintenance of the communal areas where the house is located on an estate. Your conveyancer should report to you on the legal implications.

I am employed by a long established estate agency in Totnes where we see a few flat sales derailed due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Totnes conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can instigate the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as the seller has owned the lease for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer need not have to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. 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.

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.

In relation to leasehold conveyancing in Totnes what are the most common lease defects?

There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in Totnes. All leases is drafted differently and drafting errors can result in certain clauses are not included. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:

  • Repairing obligations to or maintain parts of the building
  • A duty to insure the building
  • Clauses dealing with recovering service charges for expenditure on the building or common parts.
  • Maintenance charge proportions which don’t add up to the correct percentage

You could encounter difficulties when selling your property if you have a defective lease primarily because it impacts on the ability to obtain a mortgage on the property. Nationwide Building Society, Leeds Building Society, and Bank of Ireland all have express requirements 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 grant the mortgage, obliging the purchaser to withdraw.

Totnes Leasehold Conveyancing - A selection of Questions you should consider Prior to Purchasing

    It would be a good idea to discover if there are any onerous restrictions in the lease. By way of example plenty of leases prohibit pets being allowed in certain buildings in Totnes. If you like the propertyin Totnes but your dog can’t live with you then you have a very difficult determination. What is the the remaining lease term? Is anyone aware of any major works in the near future that could increase the maintenance fees?

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in Totnes