Do I need a licence to alter my leasehold property?

There are many reasons why owners of leasehold flats may wish to make alterations to their residential premises. Sometimes they want to change the premises before moving in.
The exact process for making the alterations will depend on what is stated in the lease, but in most cases the leaseholder will have to apply for permission to make changes from the freeholder, and obtain a licence to alter.

When do I need a licence to alter?

Not all alterations or changes need a licence. Minor alterations such as putting in new flooring, painting internal walls or putting up new shelves typically do not need permission from your freeholder. However, more substantial work such as alterations affecting the structure of the building, internal doors or anything which falls under the remit of Building Control will need freeholder permission.

Avoid breaching the terms your lease – get the right legal advice

Making changes to residential leasehold property can often cause disputes, and it is always best to consult your freeholder and have the lease checked over by a solicitor before you start making any changes to the fabric of the building. Not getting permission to make changes puts you in breach of your lease, and could mean substantial financial penalties for the leaseholder.

However a word of warning. Getting permission to make alterations often takes quite a while, especially if you are trying to get this at the same time as agreeing the terms of the lease itself. This can lead to a dilemma for the leaseholder – should you go ahead and get builders and other contractors on board to start work which he may not be allowed to do? It is therefore essential to get the ball rolling with your freeholder as soon as possible to work out whether a licence to alter is needed, how long getting one is likely to take, and work out the mechanics of the application process.

Making the Application

When making an application for a licence to alter, you will normally need to include the following, depending on the work being proposed:

·       Drawings showing the current and proposed layout

·       Full description of proposed alterations

·       Breakdown of how long the job will take

·       Evidence that the correct Planning Permission or other permissions have been obtained

·       Insurance certificates

·       Evidence that the work complies with the Party Wall Act

The Legal Position – Making Changes to Rented Premises

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act, your freeholder is not allowed to refuse permission to make alterations unreasonably. If the work is needed to bring the property in line with statutory requirements, in many situations he cannot refuse permission.

Licence to Alter – What It Might Contain

The Licence to Alter which is drawn up lays out the changes which have been agreed and any conditions under which the work has to be done. It should contain:

·         A description of what work has been agreed

·         Any conditions on doing the work (for example in terms of noise, working hours or disposal of waste)

·         Requirements for insurance

·         The agreed drawings and specifications

·         Any statutory obligations which have to be adhered to

·         How the costs are to be split. The leaseholder may have to cover any costs incurred by the landlord when preparing the licence as well as extra costs for insurance or even some work the landlord has done to items such as the security system.

It can be difficult to schedule work which is dependent on the granting of a licence to alter, and this is even more difficult when the work coincides with the leaseholder moving in for the first time. In these cases you have to coordinate the work with agreeing terms for the lease, organising relocation and removals companies, buying new office equipment or fixtures and fittings, and terminating the lease for their previous property.

Failing to get all of these variables to come into line can result in the leaseholder incurring substantial extra costs such as having to pay for temporary accommodation.

Right of inspection

The freeholder also has the right to see the renovation work at the start of the project, while it is ongoing, and when it is complete.

Need A Licence for alterations – need expert advice? Contact our experts

Make sure that you have a specialist leasehold lawyer on your side. Our team have vast experience helping both freeholders and leaseholders with regards to work/alterations licences, so:

  • Call us today on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544, or
  • Send us an email via the contact form below

    Welcome to the latest member of a lease extension team

    Today we welcome on board the latest member of our specialist team of lease extension experts – Anne Albritton.

    Anne has 30 years of experience in the property world and has specialised in lease extension and leasehold enfranchisement work for the past seven years. She is a qualified Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, and joins us from a well-known Bournemouth law firm where she worked for a number of years alongside another member of our Salisbury, Wiltshire based lease extension team – Niki Adkins.

    Our 4 strong lease extension team is now well on its way to reaching our initial target of doubling our lease extension work. Our growth has been quite considerably recently. For many years we worked for one very large client conducting around hundred leasehold extensions every year. We then decided we needed to extend their expertise to acting for individual leaseholders and initially increased our work by 50%. We then set a target of doubling that work overall, and we are already halfway towards that.

    Senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop (who run this lease extension website), Tim Bishop, commented “extending a lease involves a very exciting area of law. It’s one of the very few areas where going to see a lawyer doesn’t result in just a legal bill – extending your lease means that you are virtually guaranteed that the increase in the value of your flat will well exceed the legal and other professional costs involved. What’s more, given that there are an estimated 1.5 million leasehold properties in England and Wales, and given further that so few leaseholders seem to really understand that they do have the right to extend the lease by up to a further 90 years, there is huge scope for expansion in this work.

    “What’s more,” Tim continued, “it really is an excellent time to consider extending your lease at the moment. But only does the cost lease extension rise as the remaining leasehold term drop, but with house prices continuing to rise, putting off that lease extension is simply going to mean you have to pay more to your freeholder to extend your lease. In fact one set of London based surveyors have estimated that in London, at least, the cost of lease extension is currently going up by a whacking 12% each and every year.”

    Tim added, “The big question for us, is how long the current team will be able to cope with our growing work – and how long it’ll be before we need another member of the team. My guess – probably early 2016 at the latest.”

    Considering leasehold extension? For expert legal advice to rely on, call us now

    Our experts team can help you – wherever your flat is in Salisbury or anywhere else in England or Wales.

    You don’t need to coming to see us – they always welcome to do so – our team regularly help people extend their leases nationwide using e-mail, phone and Skype video:

    So if you’re thinking of a lease extension;

    • Just call us on 01722 422300 for FREE initial phone advice and a FREE quote for standing your lease, OR
    • Complete the email contact form below for a call back

      Two new members of our lease extension team

      Those of you who have been regular readers of this blog will know that recently we set a target of doubling our lease extension work for client nationwide the next couple of years.

      Well, while we are certainly not there yet, we are well on the way and as a result I’m really pleased to say that we have already had to expand our specialist leasehold extension team based in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

      The first new member of the expanded team is our excellent trainee solicitor, Jenny Slater. Jenny has been working with the lease extension team since the summer of 2014. She qualifies as a solicitor in September 2015 and she has enjoyed the lease extension work so much that we’ve agreed that not only will she continue to work in the lease extension team up to qualification, but when she qualifies a solicitor, we have offered her a full-time contract as a property lawyer, with the plan that she will spend a considerable amount of her time on lease extension work – as well as gradually taking on responsibility for some of the firms commercial property work. Between now and then, Jenny’s experience in helping our clients with extending a lease will grow and we anticipate that she will  play an increasing role in the team, running an increasing number of lease extension files herself as experience and specialism grows.

      I’m personally really pleased to offer Jenny a full-time contract solicitor – I spotted her when she was working as part of our reception team, offered her a job as my marketing assistant [which she did brilliantly] and then took her on as a paralegal and then trainee solicitor.

      In addition to Jenny, the team is getting so busy that we have been absolutely delighted to take back on Nikki Callender as the administrative support for our property team. The plan is that much of Nikki’s time will be spent on lease extension work – the team are getting so busy that to continue take on work at the current rate, especially with the plan to continue to increase our leasehold extension caseload, they need more and more admin support. We are really pleased that a significant number of staff who left us over the years, have asked to come back and work for us again – however we are very choosy about the quality of our staff, and as a result we only take back the best  – and as a result we are were absolutely delighted that Nikki is now back with us.

      So watch this space – as our specialist lease extension team continues to grow.

      Thinking of extending your lease? For legal advice you can trust, call us now

      Our team of Lease Extension experts can assist you – wherever your flat is in Salisbury where our team is based, anywhere in Wiltshire or or in fact anywhere in England or Wales, and we don’t even need to see you – taking your instructions by e-mail, phone and Skype video:

      So if you’re thinking of extending your lease;

      • Just call us on 01722 422300 for a FREE initial phone consultation and a FREE quote for your lease extension, OR
      • Complete the email contact form below

        Lease Extension in Basildon

        Basildon was effectively created in 1948 as a new town in order to accommodate the overspill population from London after the Second World War. It originally consisted of four villages: Pitsea, Laindon, Basildon and Vange. Today, though, the town is home to more than 100,000 people and is far more of an urban centre than its original village heritage suggests.

        In fact, Basildon is one of the most densely populated areas in the country, partly due to the large number of flats in the town. Although some of these flats are rented by the tenants, a great number are at is known as “long leasehold” properties, essentially owned by the leaseholder with a term that was originally granted for at least 21 years.

        PROBLEMS WITH SHORT LEASES

        When you come to sell your flat, if you’ve got less than 60 years left on your lease, you may be surprised to find how difficult it is to sell – in particular with such a short lease term, your flat will probably be un-mortgageable. When it comes to remortgaging or selling, you really will have major problems.

        Given that a significant number of the flats and apartments in Basildon were built in the 70s and 80s, usually with a term of 99 years, that means that many of those flats have a relatively short lease and are going to get increasingly hard to sell. For example, say flat was built in 1975 – that’s 39 years ago, which means there are only 60 years left on the lease.

        THE ANSWER TO YOUR SHORT LEASE PROBLEM

        Most flat owners don’t realise they have the legal right to force their freeholder to grant them an additional 90 years on top of the current lease.. There is no requirement that you need to have ever lived in the flat – simply that you have owned it for at least two years.

        Exercising your legal right to get additional 90 years on top of the current lease is achieved by going through a formal legal procedure – although as an alternative, it is possible to negotiate directly with the freeholder, and come to a claimant to extend the lease informally, potentially for a much shorter period than 90 years.

        However the timing, negotiations and legal arrangements for lease extension can prove very tricky – particularly if you’re working with an awkward freeholder who wants to try and drag the process out, especially when your lease is approaching the critical 80 year point – after which the price of lease extension rises significantly.

        Regardless of whether you’re thinking of making a formal statutory application or coming to an informal arrangement with your freeholder, you’re going to need a solicitor – and it’s really important that you pick one who specialises in leasehold extension work.

        CAN I USE MY LOCAL SOLICITOR?

        There is absolutely nothing stopping you using your local solicitor – but before you do, it’s really worth asking them one simple question –

        “How many lease extensions have you completed in the last year?”

        Why, because the vast majority of solicitors only come across lease extensions once in a blue moon – if at all. So they probably have very real experience of this tricky area of law.

        EXTENDING YOUR LEASE – WHY NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME

        Although in principle, you can extend your lease at any time, for most people, we strongly encourage them to do so sooner rather than later. But why?

        • Your lease extension is getting steadily more expensive

        You are currently being hit in two directions – not only will the premium you have to pay to extend your lease steadily increase as the remaining term of your lease drops, but with rising house prices, that will also increase the cost of your lease extension. In fact, one major freehold company recently estimated that the cost of lease extensions in London was going up by a staggering 12% a year. If this continues, you, you will have to pay double for lease extension in under seven years – that’s not a great incentive for you to extend your lease now, we don’t know what is

        • Lease extension solves your short lease problem and will make selling your flat much easier

        Buyers simply prefer long leases – so if you’re thinking of selling, and your lease is comparatively short (probably with a remaining term of anything below 70 or 75 years), there without a lease extension, you will attract far fewer potential purchasers , and will almost certainly achieve a much lower price

        • Mortgage lenders increasingly avoid short leases

        There’s been a real trend in the last few years, for mortgage lenders to significantly tighten their criteria or it comes to lease or property. In particular. Many now don’t lend on any remotely short lease – so whereas it was relatively easy to get a mortgage on a flat with say 50 or 60 years left 10 years ago, any potential buyer may now struggle to get a mortgage offer to buy a flat with say 70 [or even 80 years!] left on the term

        • A lease extension takes time

        if you’re thinking of selling your flat at sometime in the future, our strong advice is to get your lease extension sorted out now. Why – if you have to go down the statutory route, which we normally recommend. If you’re looking to sell a flat in the near future, then that can take up to 6 months – and you won’t want that kind of delay when you found your new dream home

        YOUR BASILDON LEASE EXTENSION – HOW OUR TEAM CAN HELP

        • With experience of many thousands of lease extension extensions for leaseholders and freeholders alike, our team have all the specialist experience you need. We have one of the top teams in the country, and lease extension work is all they do.

        • Our team provide FREE initial telephone advice – just phone FREEPHONE 0800 1404544

        • We have developed a network of specialist lease extension surveyors nationwide with we regularly work – and can introduce you to a specialist surveyor local to you who will be able to accurately value your lease extension – like solicitors, leasehold extension surveyors need to be specialists.

        • We prepare all the necessary legal documents and notices and managed the tricky timetable involved

        CONSIDERING A LEASE EXTENSION IN BASILDON? CONTACT OUR EXPERTS TODAY

        Our specialist team have helped many thousands clients with their lease extensions over the last 25 years. And when it comes to extending your lease, it doesn’t matter where you live in England and Wales – we can help. In fact we deal almost all of our extension clients solely through telephone, email or Skype video.

        And what’s more – initial phone advice from specialist team is FREE – so why not give us a call now?

        • Simply, phone us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or,

        • Fill out the email contact form below

          Buying A Flat – Five Key Points About Leasehold Extension

          There are many different things to think about when you are buying a residential leasehold flat or apartment, or if you’re buying one of those rare beasts – a leasehold house. One of the main considerations is that the land on which your property is built does not belong to you, and this raises some important considerations to be aware of.

          1. Term of the Lease Remaining

          The first thing to look at is just how long there is left on the existing lease. The length of the lease is the time remaining for your ownership of the property. If the lease expires, the ownership of your property passes back to the freeholder, unless you have agreed to extend the lease beforehand.

          2. Rights to Extend Your Lease

          Most people who are buying a residential leasehold property just don’t understand their right to lease extension. This isn’t really surprising, as leasehold extensions are a complex area of the law with which many estate agents are not familiar and which many conveyancing solicitors don’t take the time to explain to their clients. In basic terms, once you have been the owner of your flat for two years – even if you have never lived there yourself – you have the legal right to compel your freeholder to extend your lease by a period of 90 years, whether they like it or not.

          As the period on you lease starts to run down, getting it extended becomes increasingly important. As well as facing the prospect of eventually handing the flat back to the freeholder, many property owners find out the hard way that flats with a short lease are difficult to get a mortgage to buy and therefore hard to sell. It’s also important to realise that if you want to extend the lease straight away after purchase rather than waiting for two years, the person who is selling the flat to you can start the process of extending the lease before the sale goes through and then pass that on to the buyer once the deal is completed.

          3. Service Charges

          It is standard practice for owners of residential leasehold properties to pay an annual service charge. These charges can be anything between from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds every year. The service charge goes to the freeholder, and covers things like upkeep of the land and the building. Leaseholders are legally entitled to ask their freeholder for proof of how they are spending this money, and if freeholders cannot or will not provide receipts or evidence, it is a criminal offence.

          4. Reserve or Sink Funds

          Occasionally, a leasehold tenant is asked to pay into an additional fund called a sinking fund or a reserve fund. This find is designed to cover any unexpected disasters or major repairs to the building.

          5. Ground Rent

          It is a common clause in any lease that the tenant pays an annual ground rent to the freeholder. This is because you are classed as the temporary owner of your property, but are legally only renting the ground which it is built on. Ground rent is usually not a large sum, but if the lease says it has to be paid then there is no way around that. Look carefully at the lease to see what it says about increases to the ground rent. It is normal for there to be regular increases to ground rent, but ensure that you are not signing up to something which allows the freeholder to increase the ground rent substantially after a few years.

          However sometimes there are disputes about issues surrounding ground rent arrears – don’t worry if this applies to you, as we can help – our team also specialise in ground rent arrears cases.

          Being a property owner can be an expensive business and it might sometimes seem that the list of costs is endless. Many of the costs are associated with essential repairs and maintenance which you would have to cover yourself if you owned the property outright, and over the years the costs will balance out.

          It might sound like there are many drawbacks to owning leasehold properties, but they are often still a good investment. Apart from providing you and your family with somewhere to live, having a leasehold flat or apartment can be the first step on the property ladder and a way to owning a freehold house in the future.

          Before taking steps to buy a leasehold flat or other property, make sure that you get a specialist property solicitor to look over the lease and explain it to you in plain English. Residential leases are not standard and can differ hugely in their terms, so it is important to know exactly what you are getting yourself into and what your obligations are, both now and in the future.

          Interested in Leasehold Extension? Contact us today

          Our team are genuine UK leasehold extension experts – so for great advice on extending your lease, please contact us today;

          • Call us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544, or
          • Send us an email using the contact form below.

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          Lease extension in Milton Keynes

          When the new town of Milton Keynes was first designed and built, affordable well-placed housing was at the top of the list of priorities. Today, Milton Keynes is home to more than 250,000 people and covers around 35 square miles. The population has grown enormously over the past few years, with the town’s vibrant culture and busy shopping precincts being very attractive for young families looking to start their lives together.

          The town is one of the only ones in the country to have a dedicated separate cycleway network, with its entire transport infrastructure designed around easy travel — indeed, its grid system and roundabouts are famous across the whole country, the town having been designed to make it easily navigable for cars, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

          With the population boom in Milton Keynes, the need for housing has meant thousands of new homes have been built around the town, with many of them flats or leasehold apartments.

          YOUR RIGHT TO EXTEND YOUR LEASE

          If you live in Milton Keynes and you own a leasehold flat, did you know that you have the legal right to extend your lease? Well, you do – either by forcing your freeholder to grant you an additional 90 years on to the end of your current lease, or by agreeing a voluntary or informal lease extension with your freeholder.

          Put simply, subject to a few simple conditions (click here to see if you and your flat fit the criteria for lease extension) anyone can extend their lease at any time – but beware, because the process is not always easy.

          HOW A LEASE EXTENSION SPECIALIST CAN HELP

          It’s not a legal requirement that you get a solicitor to represent you – but most sensible people do. It’s a bit like buying a house – yes, you could do the legal work yourself, but sensibly, very few people try, preferring to appoint a specialist. For a start, when you come to extend your lease, it’s almost inevitable that your freeholder will hire a solicitor of their own.

          But if you do decide to appoint a solicitor, it’s really important that you get someone who specialises in lease extension. Very few solicitors do – most conveyancing solicitors only come across lease extension once in a blue moon, and with respect, a lot of them make a complete mess of it, as they don’t understand the regulations and, in particular, the very tight timetable that a formal lease extension involves.

          By getting your own specialist solicitor, you can rest assured that you have a expert to guide you through the process of extending a lease with the minimum of fuss.

          EXTENDING YOUR LEASE – DON’T DELAY

          It’s true that you can extend your lease at any stage, but our strong advice is to get your lease extension through as soon as possible. Why?

          The price is going up.

          Currently the ongoing increase in property prices means a hike in the premium you will have to play for extending your lease. When you add that to the fact that every day your lease is getting shorter, which in turn means you have to pay more for your lease extension, the reality is that delaying your is extension application is simply going to make it more expensive. In fact, recently one major London-based freehold company estimated that the cost of lease extension was going up by 12% every year – so, putting your application off by another seven years could mean you have to pay your freeholder 100% more!!!

          Lease extensions take time

          Unfortunately, many people only think about extending a lease when it comes to sell the property – that can create problems with timescales. A formal lease extension takes on average, six months, due to the strict timetable involved. The alternative, an informal agreement with your freeholder still takes time – and you risk dealing with an script landlord who could pull the plug on your agreement at any time – or try to use your need for a quick lease extension to increase the price. So a sensible leaseholder will want to extend their lease well in advance of a potential sale

          Don’t let your lease drop below 80 years

          Why? That’s simple. The very day that the remaining term of your lease drops below 80 years, your freeholder is entitled to charge an additional premium – which will cost you thousands of pounds more. So our advice is that whilst you should always look to extend your lease sooner rather than later, that’s particularly important when the remaining term of your lease is somewhere between 80 and 85 years.

          A short lease means mortgage problems

          Post recession, most lenders have significantly tightened their criteria on lending on leasehold property. As a result, many lenders simply won’t allow a buyer to borrow on any lease with a term below 70, or even 80 years in some cases. So, if you end up with a short lease, you could find that most purchasers are simply won’t be able to get a mortgage which means a delay in selling and probably a much lower sale price. The answer – early lease extension.

          YOUR MILTON KEYNES LEASE EXTENSION – HOW WE CAN HELP YOU

          • With experience developed over 20 years and many thousands of successful lease extensions, our team have got the specialism you need – click here to see what our clients and the surveyors we use think of us

          • We offer FREE initial phone advice – just call us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544

          • We will arrange to appoint a specialist surveyor to accurately value your lease extension – getting the right surveyor is as important as getting the right specialist solicitor

          • Our team deal with the application itself, all of the accompanying notices and documentation and make sure your application sticks to what can be a strict timetable

          THINKING ABOUT A LEASE EXTENSION IN MILTON KEYNES? CALL US NOW

          Over the last 20 years or so, are experts have helped many thousands of leaseholders with extending a lease.

          We can help you with your lease extension wherever you live in England and Wales – we regularly take instructions from clients solely by phone, email or Skype video only.

          So what’s stopping you getting in touch now? After all, initial phone advice from our experts is FREE.

          • Simply, phone us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or,

          • Fill out the email contact form below
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          Buying a flat with an 81 year lease – the problems and how to overcome them

          Don’t let the fact that the flat you are considering buying has an 81 year lease on it make you completely rule out purchasing it. The critical amount of time left on a lease is 80 years. If the lease has below 80 years remaining the ‘marriage value’ component of the premium payable to the freeholder for the lease extension will add significantly to the cost of that extension – we are talking a few thousand pounds here at the very least.

          From the day that the remaining term dips under that critical 80 year period, the ‘marriage value’ will steadily increase as the length of the lease decreases – so extending the lease should ideally be done before it drops below that 80 years point.

          Insufficient time for your lease extension? Your options

          Unfortunately, although one year would give you enough time to get your lease extended under the relevant legislation, you would not be eligible to make that application as that same legislation stipulates that you must have owned the property for the minimum of two years. However, all is not lost and there are a number of possible options to save you from having to pay the marriage value. They are:

          1) Approaching the freeholder to extend the lease without having to make an application under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended). The potential downside to this option is that the freeholder might refuse outright, mindful that when your lease drops below 80 years remaining they will receive a higher premium as a result of the marriage value. Or they might agree and then change their mind, or finally they might agree but impose an inflated premium and disadvantageous lease conditions on you, knowing that you have no legal protection under the Leasehold Reform Act. Additionally, with no legally binding timescale to comply with the freeholder might agree to extend the lease and drag his feet until the lease drops below eighty years remaining.

          2) You could approach your seller and ask if he or she would, their eligible permitting, apply to extend the lease, but there is the possibility that they would refuse on the grounds that the cost of the flat includes a discount for the dwindling lease.

          3) Finally you could see if the seller would be willing to serve the Initial Notice to extend the lease on the freeholder so that it can be assigned with the lease when the flat sale goes through. Once you have bought the flat you will then immediately be able to continue with the lease extension without having owned the property for the minimum two years specified in the Act. This option could be especially useful if you think that your mortgage provider would have problems with a property with a sub 80 year lease.

          Want help with your lease extension? Contact us today

          One of our specialist lease extension solicitors will be able to advise you in detail on what is involved in extending the lease on a property with an 81 year lease. Our team can advise you wherever you live in England and Wale,s and we don’t even need to see you – taking your instructions by e-mail, phone and Skype video:

          • Just call us on [01722] 422300 for a FREE initial phone consultation and a FREE quote for your lease extension
          • Complete the contact form below

            Six Mistakes to Avoid When You Extend the Lease on Your Flat

            Given that there are approximately 1.5 million long leasehold residential flats in England and Wales, it simply amazing that so many flat owners are simply not aware of their legal right to demand a 90 year lease extension from their freeholder. And bear in mind that every single one of those flats is going to need a lease extension at some stage – unless the owner simply wants to give up all their legal rights and hand the ownership of the flat back to their freeholder. And the vast majority of flat owners won’t find that they are able to leave it until the last minute – because without a lease extension, a short lease flat becomes increasingly difficult to sell.

            However, if you are one of those flat owners who are aware of your legal rights and are considering extending your lease at some stage in the future, there are a number of mistakes would you really must make sure you avoid.

            Marriage value and the 80 year trap

            Firstly, if at all possible, ensure that you make your original application for a lease extension well before the remaining term of your lease drops below 80 years.

            Why? It’s really a no-brainer. On the day, yes the day, that your lease drops below 80 years, your freeholder is entitled to charge an additional premium to you – this is known as the marriage value and even on a relatively inexpensive flat, marriage value will mean a few thousand pounds extra to pay. So, ideally, get your lease extension sorted out well before the 80 year period looms – or if not, don’t rely on making an informal agreement with your landlord. Make sure you appoint a specialist solicitor and make a formal statutory application for a lease extension to protect your interests.

            The need for a proper lease extension valuation

            Secondly, don’t try to cut corners and avoid the costs of a proper valuation carried out by a specialist lease extension surveyor. Relying on your freeholder’s estimate of the value of a lease extension, or on the valuation provided by the landlord’s own surveyor, is likely to cost you.

            Equally, although they are cheaper, we don’t recommend what are known in the industry as “desktop valuations” – i.e. valuations based just on the paperwork involved without any actual physical viewing of the flat. These are certainly cheaper, and they take less time to organise, but inevitably they are more generalised and won’t take in to account the specific circumstances of your flat. Cutting corners in this way could again add significantly to the price you have to pay when you come to extend your lease.

            The risks of an informal lease extension

            Thirdly take particular care. If you’re going down the route of an informal lease extension, i.e. an extension which is negotiated and agreed with your landlord informally without the involvement of the formal statutory process.

            One of the biggest risks with the informal route is the unscrupulous landlord. Sneaky landlords have been known to apparently agree a price for an informal lease extension only to delay the procedure and then withdraw their consent. In these circumstances, there’s nothing you can do apart from to start the whole statutory lease extension process from scratch. If there’s no urgent need to extend your lease, then this might not prove to be a disaster – but if your lease is approaching that critical 80 year period, then you need to be particularly beware.

            If a landlord can delay you applying for a formal lease extension until the remaining term drops just one day below 80 years, he can then demand the marriage value. This is far from unknown. Equally, if you’re in the process of selling a property, this can give the unscrupulous landlord, a real advantage – there’s nothing to stop them simply upping the price they require as you get near to exchanging contracts for the sale of your flat – and again there’s nothing you can do apart from to start the whole statutory process from scratch.

            Your lease extension -best planned in advance

            Fourthly – do make sure that you plan in advance. Don’t leave your lease extension until the last minute or until it becomes particularly urgent. Getting your lease extended well in advance is going to be simpler and probably cheaper.

            Why an early lease extension will save you money

            Fifthly – don’t delay. Every day your lease gets shorter, which means that the price you have to pay for your lease extension increases. Add in the fact that currently the housing market is rising and you are left with a further incentive to extend your lease sooner rather than later – because part of the valuation of the premium you need to pay to extend your lease is based on the value of your property – and if that goes up, you are going to have to pay more for your extension.

            DIY lease extension – don’t go there

            Finally – don’t try to do it yourself. The procedure involved in lease extension is tricky and timescales are crucial. When you do come to appoint a solicitor, don’t just pick the first property solicitor who comes to mind – make sure you get a specialist in this field, even if it means you can’t pick a local law firm and have to deal with your solicitors, instead, remotely, by email and phone.

            Most property and conveyancing solicitors only come across lease extensions once in a blue moon – some have never even dealt with one – so you don’t want to rely on them. Instead, do your research and make sure that appoint a solicitor who spends all their time on lease extension and knows both law and procedure backwards.

            Want To Know How to Extend the Lease on Your  Flat?  Contact us today

            Our expert Lease Extension Solicitors can advise you wherever your flat is situated in England and Wales and we don’t even need to see you – taking your instructions by e-mail, phone and Skype video:

            • Just call us on [01722] 422300 for a FREE initial phone consultation and a FREE quote for your lease extension
            • Complete the contact form below to email us

              Lease Extension and the Absentee Landlord

              When it comes to lease extension, it’s important to point out, before getting into the nitty gritty of how to track down a landlord [or more properly your freeholder], that you can still take steps to extend your lease even if you cannot find him or her. We’re not going to cover the process for doing this in this article, but if you find yourself in that situation, click here for more information about absentee landlords, or give us a call and one of our specialist lease extension solicitors will be able to explain the legal process in more details.

              Who is your landlord?

              But back to the basics – how can your leasehold extension solicitor find out who your landlord is and then track them down? The first thing to work out is who exactly the “competent landlord” actually is. Competent landlord is a legal term for the person who has the power to grant a leasehold extension. It is usually the owner of the property’s freehold, but could also be the head lessee if the building is sublet. Once the relevant person has been found, your lease extension solicitor starts the process off by serving them with an initial Section 42 notice under the Leasehold Reform, Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended).

              Your landlord – their obligation to provide contact details

              Another important piece of legislation, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, gives leaseholders a right to know the name and address of their landlord. It also states that the landlord has a legal obligation to respond to requests for their contact details within 21 days. Finding out who the competent landlord is in the first place is often the tricky part, and lease extension solicitors usually start with a search of the databases held by the Land Registry, who charge a small fee for this. Many solicitors will also look online, as there is a growing number of websites offering instant access to specialised directories.

              Leaseholders also have the legal right to serve their landlord with something known as a Section 41 notice. This is a legal letter asking the freeholder to give full details of their legal interest in the property concerned, and requires them to give any other documents which might be relevant in a lease extension application such as any survey reports or information about service charges.

              Freeholders have to give this information within 28 days of receiving a Section 41 notice. The law is also clear that sending or receiving a Section 41 notice from a leaseholder is not the first step in the lease extension process, and the leaseholder is committing themselves to nothing. Also, as it does not form part of the process, freeholders are not allowed to add any costs associated with a Section 41 notice to the “reasonable costs” for extending a lease if the leaseholder decides to go ahead at some point further down the line.

              Can’t find your landlord? Our team can help

              There are many tried and tested ways of finding a landlord, and the leaseholder has significant legal powers to force them to supply both basic contact details and any information which might be relevant to a future leasehold extension application. Just remember though that if you try all available methods and still cannot track down the landlord, that doesn’t mean the end to your lease extension application. Just talk to one of our specialist lease extension team for details about what you can do next.

              Looking at a Lease Extension? Problems with an Absentee Landlord? Contact our specialists

              If you’re looking for, solicitors who really know about lease extensions – wherever you live in England and Wales, contact our specialist team.

              • For FREE initial phone advice, call our team today on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544, or
              • Send us an email using the contact form below.

                Southampton Lease Extension

                The city of Southampton is home to more than a quarter of a million people, with the south coast city being nicknamed ‘The Gateway to the World’. It is a popular place for young families, with many amenities and attractions which make it ideal for bringing up children and getting onto the property ladder. Its popularity also means that property in Southampton can be expensive with many people choosing to get on the housing ladder by buying a leasehold flat.

                A leasehold flat can be a fantastic way to get your foot on the property ladder and own your own property without having to buy a house — an ideal situation for many young families who only need the space of a flat but do not want to get trapped in the private rental sector. Leases do need special care and attention, though, and one of the things that you need to be aware of is the possibility of extending your lease -not least because trying to sell a flat with a short lease is getting increasingly difficult..

                HOW OUR SPECIALISTS CAN HELP EXTEND YOUR LEASE

                Firstly it’s important to realise that extending a lease involves a complex area of law with strict timetables and traps for the unwary – and in addition, the average property or conveyancing solicitor only comes across lease extension rarely.

                In fact, Southampton, like most British towns and cities, has no specialist lease extension solicitors. That’s where we come in – here at Salisbury-based law firm Bonallack and Bishop, we have a team of lease extension experts – lease extension is all they do, extending leases of hundreds of clients throughout England and Wales every year.

                • Our experts offer FREE initial phone advice

                • We can introduce you to a specialist lease extension surveyor – who you are also going to need as part of your professional team to value and then assist in negotiating a reasonable premium for extending a lease with the freeholder of your block

                • Our solicitors will handle all of your paperwork, regardless of whether you are able to negotiate a private and informal lease extension of your freeholder, or whether or not a formal notice to start the whole procedure proves to be necessary

                YOUR SOUTHAMPTON LEASE EXTENSION – CALL OUR TEAM NOW

                If you live in Southampton and you are considering a lease extension, or you simply want to know more about why extending a lease is so essential, simply phone our team and one of our specialists will go through your options with you – completely FREE of charge with no obligation.

                • So call us now on [01722] 422300 or,

                • Fill out the email contact form below