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Top Five Questions relating to West London leasehold conveyancing

I am in need of some leasehold conveyancing in West London. Before I get started I require certainty as to the remaining lease term.

Assuming the lease is recorded at the land registry - and most are in West London - then the leasehold title will always include the basic details 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.

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only Fifty years remaining on my lease in West London. I am keen to extend my lease but my landlord is can not be found. What should I do?

If 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 mean that your lease can be lengthened by the magistrate. You will be obliged to demonstrate that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to locate the lessor. In some cases an enquiry agent may be helpful to conduct investigations and prepare an expert document which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a conveyancer both on devolving into the landlord’s disappearance and the vesting order request to the County Court covering West London.

I today plan to offer on a house that seems to meet my requirements, at a reasonable figure which is making it more attractive. I have subsequently found out that it's a leasehold rather than freehold. I am assuming that there are particular concerns buying a leasehold house in West London. Conveyancing solicitors have not yet been appointed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in West London are freehold rather than leasehold. This is one of the situations where having a local conveyancer used to dealing with such properties who can assist with the conveyancing process. It is clear that you are buying in West London in which case you should be shopping around for a West London conveyancing solicitor and be sure that they have experience in advising on leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. As a tenant you will not be at liberty to do whatever you want to the property. The lease comes with conditions such as requiring the landlord’sconsent to conduct changes to the property. It may be necessary to pay a contribution towards the upkeep of the communal areas where the house is part of an estate. Your conveyancer should appraise you on the various issues.

I've recently bought a leasehold flat in West London. Do I have any liability for service charges relating to a period prior to completion of my purchase?

In a situation where the service charge has already been demanded from the previous lessee and they have not paid you would not usually be personally liable for the arrears. Strange as it may seem, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. A critical element of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to ensure 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).

After years of negotiations we simply can't agree with our landlord on how much the lease extension should cost for our flat in West London. Can we issue an application to the Residential Property Tribunal Service?

Where there is a absentee freeholder or if there is disagreement about the premium for a lease extension, under the relevant statutes you can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to arrive at the price.

An example of a Lease Extension matter before the tribunal for a West London residence 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 affected 2 flats. The remaining number of years on the lease was 72.39 years.

Are there common deficiencies that you come across in leases for West London properties?

Leasehold conveyancing in West London is not unique. Most leases are unique and legal mistakes in the legal wording can sometimes mean that certain clauses are missing. 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 building
  • 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

You may 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, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, and Britannia all have very detailed conveyancing instructions when it comes to what is expected in a lease. If a mortgage lender believes that the lease is defective they may refuse to grant the mortgage, forcing the buyer to pull out.

Other Topics

Lease Extensions in West London