In recent years the property market has seen many large family homes in towns and cities such as Chichester, Worthing, and Midhurst converted into flats. The prevalence of substantial properties, particularly from the Victorian era, being turned into two or three separate dwellings has seen a rise in the number of leasehold properties for sale.
Leases for converted and purpose built flats are, in most cases, set for a long period – 99 years for example – and at the end of this time the law requires the ownership of the unit to revert back to the owner of the main property.
However, most flat owners have the right to extend a lease and a long lease will increase the chance of re-sale of a leasehold flat, can improve the property value and will make it easier for buyers to get a mortgage on a leasehold property.
Flat leaseholders who want to extend their lease must meet three major conditions:
On some occasions, the landlord (owner of the freehold) may wish to voluntarily extend the lease under agreed terms, but, if not, leaseholders can exercise their right to extend a lease under the Leasehold Reform Act by following statutory procedure.
The procedure commences with the tenant making a Notice of Claim. The Landlord will, in most cases, serve a Counter Notice which will state acknowledgment of the flat owner’s right to acquire a lease extension, but that he or she wishes to negotiate some of the terms. If a Counter Notice is not issued by the Landlord, the flat-owner can apply to the court for the fixing of a lease extension and the requirement of the freehold owner to complete.
Court procedure sets aside six months for the negotiation of terms between the parties and a qualified valuer will be required, alongside a residential conveyancing solicitor, at this stage. If negotiations do not proceed in a timely manner the flat owner must apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal well within the six month allowable period.
Once terms are agreed, the new contract or Extended Lease must be completed within two months. Once the new lease is finalised it must be registered at the Land Registry.
Extending a lease can seem like a daunting prospect, but, in most cases, it is your right and will be in your best interests. The property lawyers at George Ide can help you achieve a lease extension with cost-effective action designed to achieve your aims with the minimum of stress and fuss.
Call our West Sussex offices today on 01243 786 668 or click through to see the staff profiles of our residential conveyancing team. We are here to help.