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Tips for the preparation for Leasehold Conveyancing in Leeds

If you are marketing your leasehold property in Leeds you would be best advised to appoint your Conveyancing Solicitors as early as possible and request that they start obtaining all the management information and other leasehold documentations for the sale of the property. This will enable them to have all the paperwork ready to send out as soon as you have found a buyer.
Although your Conveyancing Solicitor should not charge you any legal fees until such time as a purchaser is found, freeholders managing agents do charge for management information and you should expect to meet this cost upfront. You might prefer to delay ordering this management information until a buyer is found, but some managing agents take weeks to supply the information. The best thing would be to ask your solicitors to contact the agents and ask them how much they charge and how long they take to supply information, then you can decide if it would be worth obtaining the information before you have a buyer.
When it comes to leasehold Conveyancing in Leeds it makes sense to appoint a firm that has lawyers with expertise in leasehold Conveyancing in this area, and Fridaysmove will find the right Solicitor for you. Leasehold conveyancing in Leeds is much the same as across the UK, however retaining a solicitor’s firm experienced in Conveyancing in Leeds is an advantage as they may be able to tap into existing relationships with many of the managing agents and landlords in Leeds.

Leasehold service charge information in Leeds:

As mentioned above some managing agents and freeholders of Leeds flats can charge £200 or more for providing management information for your leasehold property. If you have available copies of service charge accounts and demands with the receipt for the last payments, copy of the landlord’s insurance schedule, and any other documents which you have been sent in connection with the lease, you should pass these to your Conveyancing Solicitors.  
Evidence of consent to alterations to leasehold properties in Leeds
You buyer’s conveyancing solicitor will want to know if you carried out any alterations to your flat which might have required the freeholder’s consent.   Most leases contain prohibitions on the flat-owner carrying out alterations to the property, and many older leases do not permit wood flooring. Buyers’ Conveyancing Solicitors will want to know if you have changed the layout of the property or carried out any other work which would require approval. If so, it may be necessary to apply for retrospective consent, which can cost time and money.
Obtaining this consent prior to finding a buyer will avoid substantial delays in the leasehold conveyancing transaction but make sure you speak to your Conveyancing Solicitor before taking any action so you can be sure you are not leaving yourself legally exposed to your landlord. You need to be very careful when it comes to disclosing apparent breaches of the lease. If you have a share of the freehold or you have a good relationship with the landlord and you are confident that the landlord would not object to such works, you should obtain a letter from them consenting to the alterations.  

Landlords consent to the sale of a leasehold flat

Some leases require the freeholder’s consent to any sale. Although this is not very common for residential properties, it is often found in leases of retirement properties, where there will be a minimum age requirement.
You cannot apply for consent until a buyer is found, but it may save time if your Conveyancing Solicitor contacts the managing agents to ascertain what information they will require. You should ensure that your estate agents are aware of these requirements when you are close to accepting an offer from the purchaser, as the buyer may need to put in hand requests for references from their bank as well as a professional reference as soon as possible.   The bank reference should confirm that the buyer is likely to be able to meet the yearly service charge payments, and should therefore specify the annual service charge amount.

Leasehold disputes

It is recommended that flat owners should try and resolve any disputes that may exist with the landlord or managing agents, or with other flat-owners, before the property is marketed.   Buyers and their conveyancing lawyers become very nervous about purchasing a leasehold property where there is an ongoing dispute. The inevitable fact is that if you intend to sell the property you will have to pay off any arrears or resolve the dispute prior to completion.   It is preferable for any disputes to be resolved prior to contract papers being issued to the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor.   You will still have to reveal the dispute to the buyer in the conveyancing process, but the impact can be minimised by resolution of the dispute.

Retentions for service charges

It is common for the sellers of leasehold properties in Leeds to have to agree to their Conveyancing Solicitors retaining a sum of money on completion. This is known as retention, and the amount may be several hundred pounds.   On most leasehold properties the service charge is collected in advance with the landlord having the right to levy an excess charge once the service charge accounts are finalised. Because the buyer will be liable to pay any excess charge, even if it relates to work carried out before the sale was completed, the idea of retention is to provide a fund out of which any excess charge relating to the period before completion can be settled. It is very common in leasehold Conveyancing in Leeds and elsewhere in the UK for the buyer’s property solicitors to insist on a retention pending finalisation of any service charge accounts.   This often becomes a last minute point of negotiation between the parties.   In a property market which currently favours buyers it is not worth losing the sale over a service charge retention amount.  
Please note that by agreeing retention you are not giving up the money, or reducing the sale price. Rather the retained money is held in the Conveyancing Solicitor’s client account (which means that the Solicitor cannot touch it) until such time as the accounts are finalised.   The solicitor should, following completion, chase the managing agents and landlord to enquire as to whether or not the accounts are finalised and once the accounts are finalised either part of the monies will be released to the buyer or it will be released back to you (depending on the provisions within the contract).

If you own a share of the freehold

Some flat-owners also own a share of the freehold of their block. Sometimes this means that their name is listed as one of the joint owners of the freehold title at the land registry, sometimes they have a share in a company which is the registered owner of the freehold.
If you have a share in the freehold company please make sure that you find the original share certificate.   Obtaining duplicate share certificates can be a lengthy process and delay the transaction.   If you need to obtain a duplicate certificate it makes sense to apply or it prior to you finding a purchaser as opposed to delaying the conveyancing transaction.
Please note that just because you have share of the freehold does not mean to say that you should be not concerned about having less than 60 years remaining on your lease.   Please note that a buyer’s lawyer and in particular any buyer’s mortgage lender will not want to proceed to lend on a leasehold property in Leeds where the lease has less than 60 years to run. Many Leeds Conveyancing Solicitors are concerned when leases have less than 75 years to run, as mortgage lender are continually increasing the length of the unexpired term that they require.
The fact that you have a share of the freehold does not affect this, as banks and building societies will not be attaching a value to the freehold but rather the leasehold interest in your leasehold property.   It is therefore important that even if you own a share of the freehold the lease is extended.   If you have a share of freehold it makes sense to extend the lease to 999 years as soon as possible. Often your co-owners will also want similar extensions, and it can make sense if this is all done at the same time.

Retrieving your leasehold Conveyancing file.

If you have no intention of using your previous conveyancing solicitor when it comes to selling your leasehold property in Leeds you should consider asking them to retrieve your leasehold Conveyancing file out of storage.   This is because when you come to sell your property you may find that, even if you or your Lender hold the deeds, they may not be comprehensive and that some leasehold documents are left on your original file.   Some Conveyancing solicitors take over a week to obtain old Conveyancing files out of storage.   Many property solicitors do not charge you for taking a leasehold Conveyancing file out of storage, and in such circumstances there is no downside in asking your property solicitor that acted on the transaction to retrieve the file.   Please make sure that you check the original Terms and Conditions that you signed to see whether or not they are entitled to levy a charge.
Leasehold properties in Leeds with a balcony/loft conversion
If the leasehold property has a roof terrace or balcony, or a bedroom in the loft, you should speak to your Conveyancing Solicitor prior to finding a buyer and check as to whether or not the balcony, roof terrace or loft is included as part of the lease or whether or not you have rights to use it.   In the absence of appropriate rights then you can at least discuss with your Solicitor the options available to you to either remedy the problem or to provide defective title indemnity insurance.   Being proactive and having a ready made solution in hand will hopefully smooth the Conveyancing transaction once you have a buyer.

Live/Work property Conveyancing in Leeds

The leases of some flats in Leeds allow their owners to use part of the property for commercial use; these are known as live/work units, and special planning permission will have been granted when they were built. This should have been checked when you bought the property. Some mortgage lenders have specific requirements concerning percentages of commercial space, and many do not like to lend on a property where more than 30% of the space is allotted for commercial use. It is wise to have your paperwork in order before the conveyancing transaction gets underway.

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