Lease Extension – How Executors Can Make the Most of Their Property Rights

Many executors are unaware of their rights to extend a leasehold on a residential flat or house, and the useful benefits this can bring. If leasehold residential property forms part of the estate in question, then, as long as the executor acts to start the application to extend the lease by serving the formal notice of claim within two years of probate being granted, they have the same rights as the living homeowner may have had. The deceased person has to have qualified for the lease extension themselves, which usually means having owned the property concerned for at least two years.

If these conditions are met, the executor has two options. They can either go straight ahead and extend the lease [possibly by making the most of using some of the cash in the estate to pay the freeholder’s premium, surveyors fees and both sets of legal costs], or start the process with the aim of putting the property on the market.

As long as the executor has started the process of lease extension, this can then be handed onto the person who buys the house or flat. The new purchaser therefore doesn’t have to wait for the two years needed for him to start the lease extension and saves money too. A property which already has a lease extension underway is worth more than one which does not, and it is more appealing to home buyers too.

Thinking of a Leasehold Extension? Contact our Experts

Here at Bonallack and Bishop, we have a team of specialists in both Leasehold Enfranchisement and Lease Extension – that’s all they do and  they can represent you wherever you live in England and Wales – so for  FREE initial phone advice just

  • call our specialists on 0800 1404544 for FREE initial advice or
  • fill in the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Lease extensions – explaining freehold and leasehold

What is a lease?

A lease is contractual agreement between two parties with regards to an item of property. They are most commonly used for property in the United Kingdom (UK) under the term residential lease. If you are currently living in a non-freehold or non-short term rental flat, odds are you signed one prior to moving in. The original term granted on a residential lease usually falls somewhere between 99 and 125 years, which in general seems like a long time. However, if the term of your lease is allowed to run-out without a lease extension notice being served, then all interest in the flat reverts back to the freeholder. This means that not only can you lose your home, but any money you have invested in it as well.

Freehold and leasehold- what is the difference?

If someone owns a freehold over a property it will mean that they are owner of said property or the land that it was constructed on top of. As owner, a freeholder is broadly in control of the property outside of the lease, meaning that they can carry out construction and renovations, subject to the rights of any leaseholders in the building, as they so please as long as they have council permission to do so.

Any leaseholder will have a long-term tenancy agreement with the freeholder, which would usually have been agreed upon and subsequently signed prior to moving into the property. When such an agreement is in place the leaseholder will have the right to live in the property uninterrupted. A leasehold agreement doesn’t equal ownership of the property, meaning that you won’t be able to make any substantial physical alterations to the property itself, without the freeholder’s permission. Furthermore, any leasehold agreement will eventually expire -so if you wish to extend the length of the agreement you will need to serve a notice of extension. Almost every leasehold agreement will be based upon financial remuneration in exchange for living in the property, and provision for an additional regular payment to the freeholder for what are known as “service charges” [to cover premises maintenance and other miscellaneous costs] is also likely to be included in the lease.

How to do I look at my lease?

As leaseholder it is your legal right to read your lease whenever you wish to. You should, of course, have been provided with a copy of the lease by your solicitor when you originally bought your flat. If for any reason, however, you have lost or cannot find your lease – you can get a copy by either asking your freeholder to send you a copy, speaking to your mortgagor or getting one from the land registry. Getting a copy of your lease in one of these ways is likely to involve a small additional fee.

Contact Our Leasehold Specialists

Bonallack and Bishop are expert Leasehold Enfranchisement and Lease Extension Solicitors and can advise you wherever you live in England and Wales.

We offer coverage nationwide – so for FREE initial telephone advice just

  • call our specialists on 0800 1404544 for FREE initial advice or
  • fill in the enquiry form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Landmark Ruling on Right to Manage

A recent ruling in the Upper Tribunal in the Lands Chamber has clarified the interpretation of the law in regards to Right to Manage (RTM). The decision made states that a single company can exercise the RTM on more than just one building, and a single claim notice can be used to exercise this RTM claim.

The ruling was made after a case was brought concerning four blocks of flats. In each block, the owners and occupiers of properties had formed their own RTM company, but had not been allowed to exercise their Right To Manage in practical terms.

The Judge of the Upper Tribunal who heard the case and gave the judgement was Siobhan McGrath, who normally hears cases in the First-tier Tribunal. Her aim was to give a more practical interpretation to parts of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002, and stated in the ruling that the Act did not put any limits of the number of buildings, or parts of those buildings, to which the Right To Manage applies.

The case was brought by lawyers for three of the freeholders concerned. The lawyers had argued that as the legislation had the word “a” before “self-contained building”, then the interpretation should be that the Act referred to one single building only. This argument was rejected in the Judge’s ruling.

This decision has clarified how the Act should be interpreted, and this ruling may give the green light to more flat owners to exercise their Right to Manage.

Looking for specialist Right to Manage Advice? Call us now

Wherever you live, our Right To Manage Solicitors can help. For a FREE initial phone consultation oy from an expert solicitor,

  • contact us today on 0800 1404544 for FREE initial advice or
  • Complete the contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Retirement after 32 years for our leasehold extension expert

Lease extension specialist retires

2014 has seen the beginning of a new era for us – one without Mary Hunt, the longest serving member of our specialist leasehold enfranchisement and lease extension team.

Mary originally joined Salisbury law firm, Pye-Smiths back in January 1981, and has remained with the firm ever since, transferring across to us here at Bonallack and Bishop when the two firms merged in 2005.

Mary has now finally retired, after just under 32 years unbroken service.

Tim Bishop, Bonallack and Bishop’s senior partner, commented “Mary has been such an essential member of our team for so many years, that it will be really strange being without her. Over the years she’s built up an incredible knowledge of lease extension of our clients and it’s not going to be easy to replace Mary. She’s been an incredibly loyal servant of the firm with an exceptional level of cover and to us and our major freehold property client. On a personal note, I will really miss Mary, and I know our practice director will miss her rock cakes! However, knowing Mary, I’m sure she will keep really busy, in retirement, with plenty more time to spend fishing”.

However, Tim continued,” since we are looking to double our lease extension work in the next couple of years, you never know, we may be all to tempt Mary back part-time at some stage – though I have to admit my attempt to sign her up to a further 32 year fixed contract was sadly unsuccessful!”

Lease extension– contact our specialists now

If you are considering collective enfranchisement of your block, or extending your lease, we have or the expertise you need. So, for FREE specialist initial phone advice:

• Call 0800 1404544 for FREE initial advice, or

• Send us an email via the contact form below

Comments or questions are welcome.

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What is ground rent

What is it?

Ground rent is a small fee which is paid annually to the freeholder as part of the leasehold deal. The conditions of the lease will dictate whether ground rent must be paid and various rules apply to how it should be paid, when and the punishments for not paying it on time (or at all). Whilst not all leaseholders pay ground rent, it can be considered to be the norm and is sometimes referred to in a lease as ‘peppercorn’ rent.

The lease should detail the amount set for ground rent, the date it is due and exactly who it should be paid to (the managing agent or freeholder themselves in most instances).

Ground rent is not to be confused with service charges, which are charge imposed under the lease for providing services to the property, including maintainance and repair.

When will it have to be paid?

You are compelled by law to pay ground rent but only if the freeholder fulfils his/her obligations first. They must ask you to pay in the form of a demand notice delivered to any addresses you specify including the property in question. Within this demand should be your name, the price, the period involved, the due date and the freeholders personal details (name, address etc.). If these things are missing from the demand notice it can be said to be invalid. Equally, if the freeholder does not include a copy of the Notes for Leaseholders, detailing the leaseholder’s rights and responsibilities, the notice is invalidated.

The notice must be received between 30 and 60 days before the payment is due. Note, however, that the freeholder is not compelled to provide a receipt for any payment so you should keep your own records for the transaction.

Do I have to pay it?

If you fail to pay your ground rent, you can expect to end up in court provided that the freeholder fulfilled his/her obligations in terms of formally serving the rent demand within the right notice period (30-60 days) and you still failed to pay by the deadline.

The freeholder is likely to take you through the small claims court as a first port of call in an attempt to recover the arrears. If they wish to take more serious action, they can technically pursue forfeiture action, which is essentially the repossession of the property. However, in reality, such action is only deemed appropriate by the court in exceptional cases and you would have to be at least £350 in debt to the freeholder and 3 years late making the payment. Even if these conditions are satisfied, it is risky action for the freeholder because failure to follow the right legal procedure could mean that they evict you unlawfully and end up facing criminal charges themselves.

I’m being taken to court, what now?

Once the freeholder has secured a court hearing, you should attempt to pay the arrears prior to the court date. If you wait unit afterwards, you will need to pay the freeholder’s legal costs, as well as your own and the overdue rent. Paying it will stop the legal action straight away and you can go back to living as normal.

Should you find that you cannot afford to pay before the hearing, you will be given 4 weeks in which to pay. If you miss this deadline as well, the freeholder can apply to have you evicted. It may be possible to buy more time if an appeal is made to court quickly but urgency is required.

Raising ground rent – can the freeholder do this?

The freeholder will only be able to increase the level of ground rent if the property is sold, you agree to a hike in rent or the lease states that it’s permissible for the freeholder to do so.

Most leases will limit the amount that a freeholder can increase the amount of ground rent, so that they can only do it once every 4 years for example. If such a clause exists, it should be specified how much notice the freeholder is required to give.

Ground Rent Dispute? Call 0800 1404544 – expert solicitors offering FREE advice

It can be difficult to find freeholder and lease extension law and ground rent, but the lawyers here at Bonallack & Bishop have the expertise required to help with queries over ground rent and anything else you need assistance with.

  • Initial phone advice is FREE of charge, so call today on 0800 1404544, or
  • Complete the contact form below.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Sheffield Leasehold Enfranchisement

Leasehold enfranchisement, also known as ‘freehold purchase’ or ‘collective enfranchisement’ allows leaseholders to buy the freehold of their leasehold flat or apartment. If you live in Sheffield and you are interested in the enfranchisement process, our expert lease extension and lease enfranchisement solicitors can help you, leaving you with more control over your property.

LEASE ENFRANCHISEMENT – ONLY A SPECIALIST WILL DO

Here are 3 reasons why you will need a specialist solicitor when you’re looking to enfranchise your block:

• Lease enfranchisement is a tricky area of law which normal property solicitors are unlikely to have experience or an adequate understanding of. The tight deadlines and complex legislation involved make the process particularly complicated. In fact, the vast majority of property solicitors rarely if ever, conduct lease extensions, let alone enfranchisement cases

• It is almost certain that your freeholder will have instructed a specialist solicitor – so it is really important that you receive legal advice of equally high quality

• A specialist solicitor will fully understand the whole process – and in particular be able to communicate effectively with your surveyor and project manager to make the process as swift and successful as possible.

PROVEN LEASE ENFRANCHISEMENT EXPERTS

If you choose the team here at Bonallack & Bishop to help you enfranchise your block, you can be sure that you are instructing genuine specialists in their field. As one of the largest teams in the country, our four-strong group of lawyers are dedicated to lease extension, right to manage and enfranchisement work only – that is simply all they do.

Over the 25 years, thousands of leaseholders and freeholders have benefitted from our team’s experience. You’ll find our name listed on as specialists the government-sponsored Leasehold Advisory Service website – and we are also members of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners, the only organisation of specialist enfranchisement solicitors and surveyors nationwide

LEASE ENFRANCHISEMENT IN SHEFFIELD – CONTACT US NOW

When it comes to enfranchise in your block, it is not really necessary for solicitor and client to hold meetings face-to-face. Whilst you are more than welcome to visit us in one of our four offices, it is generally easier to communicate using Skype or the open, email or telephone.

Send us an email via the enquiry form below, or dial 0800 1404544 and you will receive a FREE quote for the enfranchisement process and FREE initial advice.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Leeds Leasehold Enfranchisement

Do live in Leeds? Do you own a leasehold flat or apartment? If so, there is a good chance that you will be eligible to buy the freehold of your block through a process referred to as ‘leasehold’ or ‘collective enfranchisement’. You will need specialist lease enfranchisement lawyers to help you with the process – and here at Bonallack & Bishop, our dedicated team of enfranchisement and lease extension experts have all the expertise you need.

ENSURE YOUR ENFRANCHISEMENT LAWYER IS A SPECIALIST

When dealing with enfranchisement or lease extension, its really important that both the lawyer and surveyor you choose is a specialist. Why? Because lease enfranchisement is a complicated area of the law involving difficult legal terminology and tight deadlines. Most property solicitors have little if any experience of enfranchisement, which is why you need to find genuine specialists and why there are so few of them. What’s more, your freeholder will almost certainly have instructed a specialist themselves, so don’t start off at a disadvantage.

Your solicitor will also need to be able to work effectively with your surveyor and project manager to ensure that the enfranchisement process runs smoothly. Our team work with surveyors will it comes to enfranchisement and lease extension every day – so we are perfectly placed to help with your enfranchisement.

RECOGNISED LEASEHOLD ENFRANCHISEMENT EXPERTS

Finding specialist leasehold enfranchisement solicitors is easier said than done.

However we have a dedicated team of four enfranchisement and lease extension lawyers who spend all their time helping leaseholders extend their lease or buying the freehold of their block.

We are listed as specialists on the Leasehold Advisory Service website (which is supported by the government) and are also members of the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners (ALEP) – a body formed only of specialist enfranchisement lawyers and surveyors.

LIVE IN LEEDS? CALL TODAY FOR THE RIGHT LEASE ENFRANCHISEMENT ADVICE

Despite being based in the South West, our clients come from blocks throughout England and Wales – it is not necessary to see us in person. So if you live in Leeds, there’s no problem –  we can keep in touch with you via telephone, email and Skype video as we do for any of our clients when helping them buy the freehold of their block wherever they may be nationwide.

For FREE initial advice and a FREE quote

• Call us today on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial advice

• Or email us using the contact form below – or we can arrange to ring you back when it suits you

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Buying the freehold or extending the lease on my house – FAQ

Extending the lease on my leasehold house or buying the freehold? Which is best

You can extend the lease on a house – however you are likely to be better off buying the freehold. This is generally referred to as leasehold, collective or freehold enfranchisement’.

When it comes to extending the lease on a house, a different process applies to lease extension for flats and apartments. House leaseholders can generally extend their lease for up to 50 years after having owned the flat for 2 years, whereas flat owners can extend by 90 years. Extending a lease also means that you have to follow a strict procedure with your freeholder and will need to pay expensive legal fees (unless you are able to informally agree to lease extension with the freeholder).

The flat lease extension rules and procedures will apply if your lease only covers part of a converted house.

When can I buy the freehold?

Once you have owned the house for 2 years you will be able to purchase the freehold. You cannot do so before this 2 year period has elapsed.

Where can I find out who owns the freehold?

If you are struggling to find your freeholder, you should get in touch with the Land Registry which will be able to find the registered freeholder in their records.

Why buy the freehold of my house?

Buying your freehold is often a better option than extending your lease because of the control it gives you. If you own the freehold you will not need to pay ground rent or service charges and will be able to carry our repairs as and when you wish. Furthermore, it is likely to add value to your home and will make it more attractive to prospective buyers. You may find however that you are not entitled to buy the freehold or perhaps cannot afford to do so.

How do I buy the freehold?

Provided that you qualify, you are legally entitled to buy the freehold. You must follow the process and adhere to the deadlines set out in the Leasehold Reform Act 1967. Taking this route allows the First-Tier Property Tribunal (previously known as the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal or LVT) set the terms for the purchase and the price. It may also be possible to informally negotiate with the freeholder to complete the sale. Taking this informal route means that the Tribunal will not give their input and you technically will not have a right to buy the freehold, leaving it to the freeholders discretion. A county court may be able to step in to enforce it though.

Is buying the freehold expensive?

Whereas flat owners need to pay the freeholder a fee in order to extend the lease, house owners do not need to do so. However, you will have to cover the legal fees of both you and your freeholder. This can be expensive but is generally less expensive than buying the freehold.

Can I extend the lease on my house?

It is likely that you will be able to extend the lease on your house provided that you have owned the house for 2 years. You need not have lived in the house for this time however you may not be able to extend the lease if:

• You have previously extended the lease

• You already hold a lease for a business

• The freeholder it a trust for charitable accommodation

• The original lease was awarded for under 21 years or you have sublet the property on a lease under this time

• The original lease has ended

Although you may not be able to extend your lease, you will generally be able to buy the freehold.

What happens if my lease ends?

You cease to own your home once your lease so whilst you may be able to negotiate a lease extension with the freeholder, there will be no certainty. If the lease extension is refused by the freeholder, you will become an assured tenant and your tenant will be the landlord to whom you pay rent. As an assured tenant you will have numerous rights but they will not be as extensive as a leaseholder’s rights. It is therefore crucial that you urgently seek legal advice if your lease is running out.

Will a short lease make it more difficult to sell my house?

Selling a leasehold house is likely to be difficult if you have less than 70 years to run on your lease. Generally speaking, the longer the lease, the more attractive the house is; it is therefore advisable to extend your lease. If you buy a house with a short lease it becomes harder to secure a mortgage and you will have to see out the 2 year people before you can extend the lease. For those considering lease extension, don’t forget to apply for the extension before your current lease runs out. If you leave it too late, you may lose your right to extend the lease completely.

What will happen to ground rent after the lease is extended?

In all likelihood, your ground rent will go up once you’ve extended the lease but it can only go up once the term left on your current lease has run out. Changes to the ground rent will take into account the value of the property at the time of the extension. This can go up again after 25 years. If you are locked in a dispute over the ground rent with the freeholder, a Property Tribunal may be needed to set the rent figure.

Interested in buying the freehold or extending the lease on your house?Call our specialists today

Are you a house owner? If you are looking for advice on lease extension or lease enfranchisement, our leasehold reform specialists can provide you with the specialist legal advice you need.

  • Call our team now on 0800 1404544, or
  • Send us an email via the contact form below.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Explaining Service Charges

Service charges are the cause of the majority of disputes between leaseholders and freeholders. Freeholders levy the charge to recover the cost of servicing the leasehold property but some unscrupulous freeholders will charge huge sums for unwarranted major works leading to disputes.

From a freeholder’s point of view, the service charge is fair because it makes improvements to the property which in turn improve it’s value and that if the leaseholder owned a freehold house for example they would incur the costs anyway.

However, a leaseholder might respond by saying that if they owned a house they would be free to choose what they repaired therefore saving money.

Leaseholders are only compelled to pay the service charge if the charges are reasonable and directly match up to services or maintenance which the freeholder has a legal duty to provide as stated in the Landlord and Tenant Act.

The cost of any work costing more than £250 can only be reclaimed if an agreement has already been reached with leaseholders, the works is needed urgently or the following criteria are met:

  • Two or mote estimates from different companies (in which the freeholder has not got a vested interest) are obtained for the work
  • The quotes are then displayed for all leaseholders to see or distributed to them
  • Leaseholders are sent a notice detailing the work which will be done and encouraging feedback from leaseholders within 4 weeks
  • Proper consideration must be given to leaseholder objections are responded to explaining reasons for pressing forward

In many cases, freeholders do not meet these criteria and should they fail to do so, leaseholders would be within their rights to refuse to pay the service charge in line with section 20 of the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Furthermore, leaseholders can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to ask for a different insurer to be chosen if they are dissatisfied with the insurer nominated by the freeholder.

Get in touch with our leasehold property experts today for service charge advice

Looking for advice over service charges or service charge arrears? Whether you are a leaseholder or freeholder, our specialist property dispute team have the experience and expertise needed to help you.

  • Call 0800 1404544 today, or
  • Fill out the contact form below to get in touch.

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Liverpool Leasehold Enfranchisement

Given that the population of Liverpool has grown by around 5.5% over the last 10 years, to almost half a million people, and given that nationwide there are an estimated 1,500,000 leasehold flats, it is hardly surprising to find that so many leaseholders in Liverpool hoping to gain greater control and ownership of their property through buying the freehold of their block using the leasehold enfranchisement process.

Genuinely specialist enfranchisement solicitors are very hard to find but here at Bonallack & Bishop we have a team of three experts who do nothing but enfranchisement, lease extension and right to manage company formation cases throughout England and Wales – and who can help you buy the freehold of your block.

YOUR ENFRANCHISEMENT – YOU NEED A SPECIALIST SOLICITOR

Here’s why you will need to instruct a specialist solicitor to help with your lease enfranchisement:

• The relevant legislation is complicated and difficult to understand. There are also a number of critical deadlines which must not be missed – sadly, in our experience, so a generalist solicitor or a property solicitor without much, if any, freehold purchase experience is simply not up to the job

• It’s highly likely that your freeholder knows the importance of having a specialist enfranchisement solicitor and will therefore instruct one of their own. You therefore need to do the same to be on a level playing field.

• To go through a successful enfranchisement cost effectively and with minimal complication, your solicitor will need to cooperate with the surveyor and project manager. Our team liaise daily with specialist surveyors and valuers – and collective enfranchisement project managers

OUR ENFRANCHISEMENT EXPERTISE

Over the last 25 years, we have helped thousands of leaseholders throughout England and Wales to benefit from lease extension and freehold purchase we also have a similar level of experience in acting for freeholders – so we fully understand the whole process from the position from both sides.

What’s more

• We are long-standing members of the only specialist body for leasehold surveyors and solicitors – the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners – ALEP

• The Leasehold Advisory Service website, which is funded by the government, lists our firm as a specialist provider of collective enfranchisement services

THINKING OF ENFRANCHISEMENT IN LIVERPOOL – CONTACT US NOW

Our service is so specialist that we regularly represent clients throughout England and Wales – with the vast majority of our enfranchisement cases being run by phone, email or even over Skype video. In fact, is very rare that we meet our clients – and it’s never been a problem

So, whether you live in Liverpool or anywhere else nationwide, for FREE expert initial advice and a FREE freehold enfranchisement quote

• Call us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or

• Email us using the contact form below – or we can arrange to ring you back when it suits you

Comments or questions are welcome.

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