Common questions relating to West London leasehold conveyancing
I've found a house that appears to tick a lot of boxes, at a great figure which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently been informed that the title is leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are issues purchasing a house with a leasehold title in West London. Conveyancing solicitors have are about to be instructed. Will my lawyers set out the risks of buying a leasehold house in West London ?
The majority of houses in West London 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 clear that you are buying in West London so you should seriously consider looking for a West London conveyancing solicitor and check that they are used to dealing with leasehold houses. As a matter of priority you will need to check the number of years remaining. As a lessee you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want with the house. The lease will likely included provisions such as requiring the landlord’sconsent to conduct changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a maintenance charge towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the property is located on an estate. Your lawyer will report to you on the legal implications.
I am a negotiator for a busy estate agent office in West London where we have experienced a few leasehold sales derailed due to leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given contradictory information from local West London conveyancing solicitors. Could you shed some light as to whether the seller of a flat can commence the lease extension process for the purchaser on completion of the sale?
Provided that 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 for a lease extension. 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 sale.
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 purchaser.
What advice can you give us when it comes to appointing a West London conveyancing firm to carry out our lease extension conveyancing?
When appointing a property lawyer for lease extension works (regardless if they are a West London conveyancing firm) it is most important that he or she should be familiar with the legislation and specialises in this area of work. We suggested that you make enquires with several firms including non West London conveyancing practices prior to instructing a firm. If the firm is ALEP accredited then that’s a bonus. Some following of questions could be useful:
- How familiar is the practice with lease extension legislation?
Do you have any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in West London with the aim of expediting the sale process?
- Much of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in West London can be reduced if you instruct lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and request that they start to collate the leasehold information needed by the purchasers’ conveyancers.
- A minority of West London leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should 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 financially capable of paying the annual 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.
After years of dialogue we are unable to agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in West London. Does the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal have jurisdiction to calculate the appropriate figures?
Where there is a absentee landlord or where there is dispute about what the lease extension should cost, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the LVT to determine the price payable.
An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a West London premises is 137 & 139 Haberdasher Street in December 2013. The Tribunal determines in accordance with section 48 and Schedule 13 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 that the premium for the extended lease for each Property should be £12,350.00. This case was in relation to 2 flats. The the number of years remaining on the existing lease(s) was 72.39 years.
When it comes to leasehold conveyancing in West London what are the most common lease defects?
There is nothing unique about leasehold conveyancing in West London. Most leases are unique and drafting errors can result in certain provisions are wrong. The following missing provisions could result in a defective lease:
- Repairing obligations to or maintain elements of the premises
- A duty to insure the building
- 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
You could have 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, Barnsley Building Society, and Barclays Direct 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 is defective they may refuse to provide security, forcing the purchaser to pull out.