How to extend your property lease?
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Unlike a freehold that grants ownership of a property for as long as the owner desires, many people own leasehold properties. These are covered by a lease that limits the number of years before until ownership reverts to the freeholder.
Thanks to a piece of legislation called The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, many leaseholders now have the right to extend the lease on their property by another 90 years. If a lease is extended in this way, called a statutory lease extension, it also removes any ground rent that might have been previously payable.
Anyone who is interested in extending a lease is better acting sooner rather than later as, the less time a lease has to run, the higher the cost for extending it will be. This is intended as a brief guide to the process that is involved.
Check that you qualify
The first thing to do is to check the number of years left on your lease and whether you qualify for an extension. If you do, your next step should be to contact a legal adviser like Eatons who have extensive experience in the field of lease extensions. We will be able to confirm whether you do qualify and also give an indication of the possible costs involved. A surveyor will also be engaged to estimate the cost of extending the lease. This will generally be presented to you as a lower and upper range, with the lower estimate being used in all future documentation.
Preparing a Section 42 Notice
The next step is for your solicitor to prepare a Section 42 Notice to start the official process. They will need to see statements showing the latest ground rent and service charge payments for the property along with details of the freeholder’s name and address as well as any managing agents.
The notice will then be served.
Serving the Notice
Once a valid Section 42 Notice is served, it will trigger a rigid timetable that must be followed.
On receipt of the notice, it’s customary for the freeholder to request a 10% deposit of the extension cost quoted in the documentation or £250, whichever is the higher. It may be a good idea to open an account with the solicitor so money’s already in place to make this payment as there is a time limit of 14 days from the payment request being made to the freeholder’s solicitor.
The freeholder’s surveyor will also generally want to inspect the property to write their own valuation report.
The Counter Notice
Within two months of the Section 42 Notice being served, you should receive a Counter-Notice from the freeholder’s solicitor. If none is received by the specified date then it is assumed that the extension can go ahead on the terms set out by your solicitor, including for the lower renewal cost quoted.
Sometimes, as well as sending the Counter-Notice, the freeholder might make an informal offer which may be on better terms. It’s important to follow legal advice about whether to accept this.
The Negotiation Period
When the Counter-Notice has been received, there is a two month period during which a final agreement should be reached,
If negotiations are still going on at the end of the two months but progress is being made then the leaseholder’s solicitor can apply to have an extension – they can only do this after the initial two months have elapsed and before six months from the receipt of the Counter-Notice.
Agreement and completion
Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the extension, the leaseholder’s and freeholder’s solicitors work to create the new agreement. There is a four-month period to complete this, from the time when the cost and the terms are first agreed.
Finally, a completion date will be agreed for the lease extension, the property register at the Land Registry will be amended and the process will be complete.
We hope that this short article has answered at least some of your questions about the process of extending a property lease . For more help, our property law experts will be happy to advise and help you. To benefit from our services simply contact your nearest Eatons office or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. and we will get back to you as soon as possible to take things further.
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