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Happy New Year to you! Thinking about the year ahead?

As we step into a New Year, it can be a time of reflection. After
celebrating and spending time with family over Christmas, you might be
thinking about what the future will hold.

Should your New Years Resolution be to get your affairs in order?

Regardless of your age, planning ahead and putting your wishes in place will
provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. That will certainly lift
those January blues, when the highs of Christmas are over. Creating a Will
or a Power of Attorney may seem like an odd way to shake away the January
blues, but you could be ensuring the future of your loved ones – whatever
your wishes, will be granted.

Could 2018 be the year that you buy your dream home?

Maybe you’ve been thinking of moving house and 2018 might be
the year to take action. Once you find that perfect property, we can
certainly help you with the legal side of things. Our specialist,
Conveyancing team will look after the legal (and sometimes stressful) side
of your move. We work to get things moving for you, whilst you can get on
with packing your boxes and choosing your wallpaper! Our experienced and
award-winning Conveyancing team will manage everything from searches,
deposits and signing contracts, to Exchange and final Completion. Fidler &
Pepper have a dedicated team and we’ll keep you updated 24/7 with our
secure, online case tracker.

Need a helping hand or a chat with one of our team?

If you’d like to get your affairs in order or have plans to buy, sell or
remortgage your property then come and see one of our specialist team.
Alternatively, you can give us a call on 01623 45 11 11 or visit www.fidler.co.uk

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Beginners Guides, Buy to let, Buy your freehold, Case Tracker, Contract, conveyancer, Conveyancing, Conveyancing Quote, Do your own conveyancing, First Time Buyers, leasehold, Leasehold Conveyancing Quote, Leasehold extension, Property Report, Quicker conveyancing    No Comments

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What is Freehold Ownership?

Freehold means that you will be the sole owner of the property as well as being the owner of the land the property sits on and is surrounded by. This is often preferred for many buyers as you will not have to pay any additional ground rent or service charges. As the freeholder you are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the building but you will have control over when the repairs are made.

What is Leasehold Ownership?

Leasehold means that you are buying the right to use the property from the freeholder or ‘Landlord’ (the person who owns the building and land it resides on) for an agreed number of years. Leasehold is typically how flats and maisonettes are sold but is also used for houses both new and old.

If you own a leasehold flat or house you are likely to be required to pay ground rent, maintenance fees and annual service charges either on a monthly or annual basis to the freeholder. Sometimes these rents can be very low especially on very old properties but the fees can also range up to and over ₤1000 year and even more in London.

All leases are different so make sure your Conveyancer explains this thoroughly and you understand your responsibilities to the Landlord

  • You may have to gain permission from the freeholder if you want to undertake any major works on your property such as replacing your windows or extending the property
  • You may need to gain permission if you wish to rent the property out
  • Leases can be as short as 40 years or as long as 999 years – but the longer the better
  • If you require a mortgage then the lease usually needs to be to be at least 80 years
  • Leases can be extended or you can apply to buy the freehold of the property from the Landlord but the shorter the time remaining on the lease then the then more costly this becomes

Are you somewhere in the middle?

In the world of Conveyancing, there’s always another option to consider. Often freehold houses, especially on new build estates are sold as freehold but there is a clause in the title giving the responsibility to maintaining the communal areas on the estate such as shared drives, car parks and open spaces to a Management Company. Generally you would, if there is a Management Company, be liable to pay a yearly service charge to the company for its services. Remember to check the small print for any hidden costs even if a property is advertised as freehold.

Have any further questions?

Our specialist team have extensive experience dealing with both leasehold and freehold properties. Simply give us a call on 01623 45 11 11 and we will be happy to help you further.

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flat block

 

Owning the freehold means that you own the land and the building on the land.

If you own a leasehold property the land is owned by the freeholder known as the landlord and the leaseholder, the tenant, owns the property the term of the lease. When if the lease expires, the property returned back to the ownership of the landlord.

Leasehold properties are common and are very useful when you need to have rules in place regarding the management of common areas, say a block of flats, as the leaseholders will each own their flat but the landlord will continue to own the structure and the common parts such as the staircases, the gardens, parking areas etc  and each of the leaseholders will generally be required to pay towards the upkeep of such.

If you are planning to buy or sell a leasehold property please contact our specialist leasehold team as they would be happy to provide you with a fixed fee quote.

Christie Limb

 

 

 

 

 

 

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flat

 

When we act on the sale of a leasehold property one of issue we often come up against a is the management pack. With a leasehold property the owner of the property owns the building but not the land and this is retained by the landlord otherwise known as the freeholder. The freeholder will have control over the common areas such as landings stairs gardens etc, these are generally managed be a management company who then charge the flat owners a charge known as a service charge. . When the property is being sold the seller will be requested by the buyer to provide a management pack and this will detail the service charge for the property, what services are provided, what anticipated service charges are for the future etc.

The problem we have is that the management company can charge varying sums for such packs and quite often the seller has not allowed for this is the sale fees.  We are not able to tell the seller at the outset what the cost of the management pack will be until the management company have informed us and most management companies charge different amounts.  the other issue with the management pack is that it can take time to come through.

At Fidler and pepper we have a dedicated team that deal with leasehold property and will try and obtain the management oack for you right at the outset to avoid delays.

If you are planning to sell a leasehold property then please contact Maddie Sault our specialist leasehold fee eraner and she would be more than happy to provide you with a fixed fee quote for the work.

 

 

 

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What is a leasehold property

blog image high rise flat

A leasehold property is different to a freehold property as rather than buying the actual property what you are buying is a lease to live in the property for a number of years.

 

The lease will details all the areas that you own but generally you will not own common areas such as stairs, common gardens etc as these will still be owned by the freeholder. The freeholder is the person who owns the title to the property and this will be your landlord.

 

The landlord will often employ a management company who will handle the day to say running of the common parts, such as maintenance of the communal gardens, the decoration of the common parts like the stairs.

 

On buying a leasehold property the buyer will enter into a lease of the property with the landlord and this will clearly detail what property you are going to be able to occupy and what rights you have over the common areas.

 

The purchase of a leasehold property is generally more complicated than a purchase of a freehold property as there are extra documents to consider including the lease.

 

Your solicitors will

 

– check the lease and ensure that the terms are correct for example they will check the mortgage term and see if the length of term is appropriate and if not advise you on whether the lease should be extended.

 

–         check the terms the lease to ensure that none of the obligations are too onerous

 

–         check that the rent is fixed and easy to establish

 

–         ensure that there are appropriate provisions for insurance. As you will have the right to occupy the property it will be important that the insurance provisions for the whole building are appropriate

 

–         check that there are appropriate rights granted for the enjoyment of the property such as rights of access, rights of support and protection

 

–         check that there are no unreasonable restrictions in the lease

 

It is important that you seek specialist advice when buying a leasehold property and at Fidler and Pepper we have a specialist leasehold team. If you are thinking of buying a leasehold property then please click here to obtain an online quote and also feel free to call on 01623 451111 if you have a questions.

 

 

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The law in England and Wales provides tenants of flats (upon meeting certain criteria) the legal right to effectively take the place of the freeholder by either getting together with fellow tenants to buy the freehold of the building they occupy (known as leasehold enfranchisement) or forming a right to manage company (RTM) which takes over the management of the building.

Leasehold enfranchisement

Broadly speaking, if 50% of tenants in a building on leases of 21 years or longer  wish to acquire the freehold title, then they can do so upon following a set procedure.  Such an option may seem attractive to tenants who wish to take control of granting their own lease extensions and of the management of the building. 

 

Right to Manage

To qualify for the right to manage, tenants must hold a lease of 21 years or over and the qualifying tenants wishing to exercise the right must own at least two-thirds of the flats in the building.  The building itself must also meet certain qualifying criteria.  Assuming that there are the requisite number of qualifying tenants and the building meets the qualifying criteria, an RTM Company can then be set up to take over the management of the building.  Any qualifying tenant is entitled to be a member of the RTM Company as is the freeholder.

lease extension pic

Is it time to take control?

Both enfranchisement and the right to manage do offer leaseholders the potential to take some degree of control.   Once in the driving seat, tenants are free to assume responsibility for managing the building themselves.   However, both options are major steps and so it is essential that tenants take advice as to whether in their particular circumstances either route is advisable as there could be implications which should not be taken lightly.

The process of leasehold enfranchisement and right to manage may be costly depending on the size and complexity of the building.  Managing a building is complicated and involves a whole host of laws and regulations.  Often the tenants driving enfranchisement or right to manage are a small group who has to put in enormous amounts of time and effort and so a managing agent is required anyway.   Tenants wishing to enfranchise or set up an RTM Company will need to strongly consider whether they have the stomach for a dispute with their neighbour over issues such as unpaid service charges.  Can the tenants get on as a group?  It is nearly always impossible to say as future owners come into the equation.

Both the right to manage and enfranchisement are important legal options available to some tenants.  However, neither right is without its pitfalls, and tenants need to take advice to ensure that they go in with their eyes wide open.    If you would like advice on your options as a leaseholder then please contact either Luke Rees or Christie Limb in the commercial and leasehold department on 01623 451111.

 

 

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flat image 

Lease enfranchisement

 

What is it?

 

When you buy a leasehold property you own the leasehold title but a third party owns the freehold title. Lease enfranchisement allows the leaseholder owner to acquire the freehold.

 

Why would you want to acquire the freehold?

 

If you own the freehold it allows you to:-

 

1. grant lease extensions yourself;

2. control the management of the building  and

3. if the lease needs variation etc then this allows you the freedom to do so.

 

Can I apply? 

 

To qualify to apply for enfranchisement the following must be satisfied:-

 

1.there must be at least two flats in the building;

2. at least 2/3 of the flats, must be let to “qualifying tenants”

 

What is a qualifying tenant?

 

1. the lease must be for 21 years or more (certain other leases do qualify);

2. at least 50% of the flat must join in the application, if there are only twp flats both must participate;

 

What is the procedure?

 

There is a set procedure for the application starting with the tenant serving a notice with required information on the freeholder. I would suggest that a solicitor be involved at this stage to ensure that the procedure is followed.

 

What will the tenant have to pay?

 

1.Usually the tenant will have to pay certain fees of the freeholder and

2. the purchase price for the freehold the price depends on a number of factors such as the length of the leases and the value of the flats. If the lease term is over 80 years less value will need to be paid.

 

If you require any assistance with such an application Fidler and Pepper have a specialist team who handle such cases and we would be happy to provide you with a quote for the work. Please call Christie on 01623 448302 for further information

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confusedWhen many clients approach us they generally have already agreed the new terms of their lease.  Very often however they have not negotiated the terms of their lease very well or at all.  The market is considerably more tenant friendly and as such you should consider the following as items a tenant should consider when re-negotiating.

 

Rent

You should always attempt to get the rent to be decreased. Unlike a normal rent review during the term of the lease which will almost certainly be upwards only, on renewal you can re-negotiate the amount that you pay.

Rent-free

Does the property need any works carried out. Rather than the landlord doing this could you as the tenant carry out the works but not pay any rent for the period that they are being carried out?

Break clauses

You should look to insert break clauses at regular intervals to ensure that this gives you as much flexibility for your business as possible and to suit your needs. However, this may result in higher rents to rent penalties.

Repair

You should always resist any attempt to insert into the new lease any obligation to put or keep the property in repair. Depending on the length of the lease this may be a significant expenditure at the end of the lease. If the landlord refuses to have this removed then you should insist that a schedule of repair is included in the lease to record the condition of the property when you took it on.

Alienation or transferring the lease

You should attempt to have as much control over who you transfer the lease to and limit the consents that you need to obtain to do this. This should be applicable for when you transfer or assign the lease and when you underlet or grant sub-tenancies.

Service Charge

You should ensure that this is as low as possible and that it is capped so that it does not become a ‘blank cheque’ clause for the Landlord.

Rent Review

If the landlord insists that this is included then please ensure that it is downwards as well as upwards. You should also pay close attention to the assumptions contained in the rent review provisions.

User Clause

This needs to be as wide as possible and allows you to diversify slightly if required.  You should also consider that a restrictive clause will limit who you can assign or sublet to.

Monthly rent payments

Look at how and when the rent is paid. This can have a significant impact on your business cash flow. Generally you would want monthly payments to assist with your cash flow.

If you are thinking of renewing your lease and want to chat about any concerns why not drop us a line for an informal chat on your concerns on 01623451111 or wjames@fidler.co.uk. Alternatively you can visit our web page for more information on commercial property.

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Commercial lease – Short lease versus long lease

When negotiating a lease one of the most difficult questions to resolve is what length of term should the lease be for?

In the past when it was a landlord’s market, the landlord would be looking for long leases to ensure that the premises were let for a long period of time. In today’s markets more and more business are taking up short terms leases.

Short lease

The benefit of a short lease is that it provides you with more flexibility, if you are just setting up a business you might want to avoid being tied to a long lease on the property which could prevent you from moving /expanding.

You also have to consider stamp duty, generally, the longer the lease and the higher the rent the more stamp duty payable.

Long lease

If you are investing a lot of money into the property when you take occupation you might want a long lease to ensure security over the property.

Summary

Both short and long leases can have agreed terms that work to your needs, for example if you are a tenant under a short lease provided the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 has not been excluded, (except in certain circumstances) the tenant will be able to request that a further lease is granted on the expiry of the current lease. The new lease terms will need to be agreed between the tenant and the landlord or if required an expert or the courts.

A tenant looking at a longer lease could consider having a break clause, the more flexible the better i.e. a rolling break clause after so many years that allows termination on notice. Likewise if the lease allows you to assign (pass the lease) to a new tenant then this may provide you with any flexibility you require during the lease term i.e. the ability to leave these premises and move to bigger premises.

If you need any assistance in negotiating the terms of a new lease or you have already agreed terms and require a solicitor to advise on the draft lease please contact Christie Limb (climb@fidler.co.uk)  she would be happy to provide you with a fixed fee quote for the work.

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Tenants or leaseholders quite often ask me how to extend their lease and I thought it a good idea to briefly set out below what is involved.

Leaseholders or tenants that have a lease of around 50 to 60 years may wish to extend their lease and in many cases we would advise that they do.

The right to extend your lease is conferred on the tenants by the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. This act allows a tenant to extend their lease by an additional 90 years on top of what ever is left on their existing lease and reducing the ground rent to a peppercorn or nominal amount.

The freeholder will want to be compensated for the lease extension and as such there will be payment to him for the lease extension.

The valuation issues involved are fairly complex, but briefly the freeholder will be entitled to compensation for:

  1. Loss of the ground rent income, which is payable under the terms of lease

 

  1. Loss of the right to the reversionary interest at the expiration of the lease. That is to say the right to receive the flat back at the end of the original lease;

 

  1. Where the lease has less than 80 years to run, under current legislation, the landlord is entitled to a 50% share of any additional value (marriage value), which results from the difference in value of the flat held on the original terms, to the value it will have with the benefit of a ninety-year extension to the existing lease. The difference in these respective values will increase for each year that passes, once the lease has reduced to 80 years unexpired.

If you have any questions in relation to extending your lease please drop me a line on 01623451111 or wjames@fidler.co.uk

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