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Winchelsea leasehold conveyancing: Q and A’s

Having checked my lease I have discovered that there are only 72 years left on my flat in Winchelsea. I am keen to get lease extension but my landlord is absent. 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 extended by the magistrate. You will be obliged to prove that you or your lawyers have done all that could be expected to locate the freeholder. On the whole a specialist may be useful to conduct investigations and to produce a report which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the landlord can not be located. It is advisable to get professional help from a conveyancer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Winchelsea.

I today plan to offer on a house that seems to tick a lot of boxes, at a reasonable figure which is making it all the more appealing. I have since discovered that the title is leasehold as opposed to freehold. I am assuming that there are issues purchasing a leasehold house in Winchelsea. Conveyancing lawyers have are about to be appointed. Will they explain the issues?

Most houses in Winchelsea are freehold and not 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 Winchelsea in which case you should be shopping around for a Winchelsea conveyancing solicitor and check that they have experience in dealing with leasehold houses. First you will need to check the number of years remaining. Being a tenant you will not be entirely free to do whatever you want with the house. The lease comes with conditions such as requiring the freeholder’spermission to conduct changes to the property. You may also be required to pay a service charge towards the upkeep of the estate where the house is located on an estate. Your solicitor will advise you fully on all the issues.

I've recently bought a leasehold flat in Winchelsea. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to my ownership?

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. However, your landlord may still be able to take action to forfeit the lease. It is an essential part of leasehold conveyancing for your conveyancer to be sure 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).

Do you have any advice for leasehold conveyancing in Winchelsea from the point of view of saving time on the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Winchelsea can be avoided where you appoint lawyers the minute your agents start advertising the property and ask them to collate the leasehold information which will be required by the purchasers’ representatives.
  • The majority freeholders or managing agents in Winchelsea levy fees for providing management packs for a leasehold homes. You or your lawyers should find out the fee that they propose to charge. The management pack sought as soon as you have 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 common reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Winchelsea.
  • If you have carried out any alterations to the property would they have required Landlord’s approval? In particular have you installed wooden flooring? Most leases in Winchelsea state that internal structural changes or installing wooden flooring necessitate a licence from the Landlord approving such alterations. Where you dont have the paperwork in place do not communicate with the landlord without contacting your lawyer in the first instance.
  • Some Winchelsea leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this applies to your lease, it would be prudent to notify your estate agents to make sure that the purchasers put in hand financial (bank) and professional references. The bank reference should make it clear that the buyer is 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 purchasers or their solicitors.
  • If you have the benefit of shareholding in the freehold, you should make sure that you have the original share certificate. Arranging a duplicate share certificate is often a lengthy process and frustrates many a Winchelsea conveyancing deal. If a duplicate share certificate is needed, you should approach the company officers or managing agents (where relevant) for this as soon as possible.

  • All being well we will complete the disposal of our £125000 garden flat in Winchelsea in nine days. The landlords agents has quoted £420 for Landlord’s certificate, insurance certificate and previous years service charge statements. Is the landlord entitled to charge such fees for a leasehold conveyance in Winchelsea?

    Winchelsea conveyancing on leasehold apartments more often than not involves the purchaser’s conveyancer submitting questions for the landlord to address. Although the landlord is not legally bound to answer these enquiries most will be content to do so. They are at liberty levy a reasonable administration fee for answering enquiries or supplying documentation. There is no set fee. The average costs for the paperwork that you are referring to is over three hundred pounds, in some transactions it is above £800. The management information fee levied by the landlord must be sent together with a synopsis of rights and obligations in respect of administration fees, without which the invoice is not strictly payable. Reality however dictates that you have no choice but to pay whatever is demanded if you want to complete the sale of your home.

    Winchelsea Leasehold Conveyancing - A selection of Questions you should ask before buying

      Does this lease have in excess of 85 years unexpired? Many Winchelsea leasehold apartments will be liable to pay a service charge for maintenance of the building set by the landlord. Where you acquire the flat you will have to meet this contribution, normally in instalments accross the year. This could vary from a couple of hundred pounds to thousands of pounds for buildings with lifts and large common grounds. In all probability there will be a rentcharge for you to pay annual, this is usually not a large sum, say approximately £50-£100 but you should to check as sometimes it could be prohibitively expensive. For most Winchelsea leaseholds the outlay for major works are not included within maintenance charges, albeit that there some managing agents in Winchelsea require leaseholders to pay into a sinking fund created for the specific purpose of building a fund for larger repairs or maintenance.

    Other Topics

    Lease Extensions in Winchelsea