Fixed-fee leasehold conveyancing in Victoria:

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Questions and Answers: Victoria leasehold conveyancing

I only have Fifty years unexpired on my lease in Victoria. I now wish to extend my lease but my freeholder is can not be found. What should I do?

On the basis that you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can submit an application to the County Court for an order to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will enable the lease to be granted an extra 90 years by the Court. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have made all reasonable attempts to find the lessor. On the whole an enquiry agent should be useful to conduct investigations and to produce a report to be used as proof that the landlord can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a conveyancer in relation to investigating the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Victoria.

I have just started marketing my 2 bed flat in Victoria.Conveyancing solicitors are to be appointed soon but I have just had a quarterly maintenance charge demand – what should I do?

It best that you clear the service charge 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've found a house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a great price which is making it all the more appealing. I have since discovered that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I would have thought that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in Victoria. Conveyancing solicitors have are soon to be appointed. Will my lawyers set out the implications of buying a leasehold house in Victoria ?

The majority of houses in Victoria are freehold rather than leasehold. In this scenario it’s worth having a local solicitor who is familiar with the area can help the conveyancing process. We note that you are buying in Victoria so you should seriously consider looking for a Victoria conveyancing solicitor and check that they are used to advising on leasehold houses. First 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 freeholder’spermission to carry out changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a contribution towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the house is located on an estate. Your solicitor will appraise you on the various issues.

I am a negotiator for a long established estate agent office in Victoria where we see a number of flat sales put at risk as a result of short leases. I have been given inconsistent advice from local Victoria conveyancing firms. Please can you clarify whether the seller of a flat can commence the lease extension formalities for the buyer?

As long as 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 buyer can avoid having to wait 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment needs to be completed before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.

An alternative approach is to extend the lease informally by agreement with the landlord 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.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Victoria from the point of view of expediting the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Victoria can be avoided where you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and ask them to put together the leasehold documentation which will be required by the purchasers’ solicitors.
  • A minority of Victoria leases require Licence to Assign from the landlord. If this is the case, it would be prudent to place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. Any bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are 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 service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the buyers or their lawyers.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your landlord or managing agents it is very important that these are resolved before the property is marketed. The purchasers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where a dispute is unsettled. You will have to accept that you will have to discharge any arrears of service charge or settle 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 are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the buyers, but it is clearly preferable to reveal the dispute as over as opposed to unsettled.
  • If you hold a share in a the freehold, you should ensure that you hold the original share document. Organising a re-issued share certificate can be a lengthy process and delays many a Victoria home move. If a reissued share certificate is needed, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where relevant) for this as soon as possible.
  • You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but you should double-check via your lawyers. A purchaser's conveyancer will be unlikely to recommend their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is under 75 years. In the circumstances it is essential at an early stage that you identify whether the lease requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale.

  • I am the leaseholder of a ground-floor 1950’s flat in Victoria. Given that I can not reach agreement with the landlord, can the Leasehold valuation Tribunal determine the amount payable for a lease extension?

    Absolutely. We can put you in touch with a Victoria conveyancing firm who can help.

    An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a Victoria premises 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 was in relation to 2 flats. The the unexpired term as at the valuation date was 56 years.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Victoria