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Recently asked questions relating to Woburn leasehold conveyancing

My husband and I may need to rent out our Woburn ground floor flat for a while due to a career opportunity. We instructed a Woburn conveyancing firm in 2003 but they have since shut and we did not have the foresight to get any guidance as to whether the lease permits subletting. How do we find out?

A lease dictates relations between the freeholder and you the leaseholder; specifically, 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 specific ban or restriction, subletting is permitted. Most leases in Woburn do not contain strict prohibition on subletting – such a provision would undoubtedly devalue the flat. In most cases there is a basic requirement that the owner notifies the freeholder, possibly supplying a duplicate of the sublease.

There are only Seventy years remaining on my flat in Woburn. I now wish to extend my lease but my landlord is missing. What options are available to me?

If you qualify, under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you can apply to the County Court for for permission to dispense with the service of the initial notice. This will mean that your lease can be granted an extra 90 years by the Court. You will be obliged to prove that you have made all reasonable attempts to track down the landlord. On the whole an enquiry agent should be helpful to try and locate and to produce a report which can be accepted by the court as evidence that the freeholder can not be located. It is wise to seek advice from a property lawyer both on proving the landlord’s disappearance and the application to the County Court covering Woburn.

I am looking at a couple of flats in Woburn both have approximately 50 years left on the lease term. Should I regard a short lease as a deal breaker?

There is no doubt about it. A leasehold flat in Woburn is a deteriorating asset as a result of the shortening lease. The nearer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it reduces the value of the property. The majority of buyers and banks, leases with less than eighty years become less and less marketable. On a more positive note, leaseholders can extend their leases by serving a Section 42 Notice. One stipulation is that they must have owned the premises for two years (unlike a Section 13 notice for purchasing the freehold, when leaseholders can participate from day one of ownership). When successful, they will have the right to an extension of 90 years to the current term and ground rent is effectively reduced to zero. Before moving forward with a purchase of property with a short lease term remaining you should talk to a solicitor specialising in lease extensions and leasehold enfranchisement. We are are happy to put you in touch with Woburn conveyancing experts who will explain the options available to you during an initial telephone conversation free of charge. More often than not it is possible to negotiate informally with the freeholder to extend the lease You may find he or she is happy to negotiate informally and willing to consider your offer straight off, without having to involve anyone else. This will save you time and money and it could help you reach a lower price on the lease. You need to ensure that any new terms represent good long-term value compared with the standard benefits of the Section 42 Notice and that onerous clauses are not inserted into any redrafting of the lease.

Last month I purchased a leasehold house in Woburn. Am I liable to pay service charges relating to a period prior to completion of my purchase?

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. 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).

I work for a reputable estate agent office in Woburn where we see a few leasehold sales derailed due to short leases. I have received inconsistent advice from local Woburn conveyancing firms. Can you clarify whether the vendor of a flat can start the lease extension process 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 commence the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. The benefit of this is that the proposed purchaser need not have to wait 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 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 buyer.

I invested in buying a leasehold flat in Woburn, conveyancing having been completed 4 years ago. Can you give me give me an indication of the likely cost of a lease extension? Similar flats in Woburn with a long lease are worth £211,000. The ground rent is £60 yearly. The lease ends on 21st October 2090

With just 69 years unexpired we estimate the premium for your lease extension to be between £8,600 and £9,800 plus costs.

The figure that we have given is a general guide to costs for extending a lease, but we cannot give you a more accurate figure without more comprehensive due diligence. Do not use the figures in a Notice of Claim or as an informal offer. There may be additional issues that need to be taken into account and you obviously should be as accurate as possible in your negotiations. Please do not take any other action placing reliance on this information without first getting professional advice.

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Lease Extensions in Woburn