Lease Extension Solicitor – do I really need one?
Extending your lease can prove surprisingly tricky. Your landlord is almost certain to employ a lease extension solicitor who knows what they’re doing with regard to law procedure – both of which are quite complex, with plenty of traps for the unwary.
If you’re planning to extend the lease on your flat and you want your lease extension to go through smoothly and swiftly, there are several reasons why you need to get specialist lease extension advice and hire the right experienced solicitor to help you.
Got a leasehold extension question? Call our specialist solicitors on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice – with no strings attached.
Lease Extension – It involves complex law and procedure
Both the law and procedure surrounding any residential lease extension is tricky – not only are there deadlines which are easy to miss, but also the Leasehold Reform, Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 [which is the legislation governing leasehold extensions] is pretty inaccessible if you aren’t a trained property lawyer.
The answer? An experienced lease extension solicitor will be able to explain the requirements you need to meet and what you need to do first – which is important as you obviously need to know whether or not you are eligible to extend your lease.
An experienced leasehold extension solicitor will also help you gather all the necessary information to proceed with extending your lease and help you to find a specialist surveyor to carry out your lease extension valuation.
Llike your solicitor, you must make sure that whoever values your lease extension is a specialist – very few surveyors are. Your solicitor will prepare all the necessary legal documents for you – including the Notice you need to serve to your landlord to start the whole formal process, and will make sure that your application sticks to the rigid timetable required.
A specialist lease extension solicitor can help you if your freeholder does not co-operate – perhaps by turning down your request or haggling with you over the price of your lease extension.
They will advise you on how to act during negotiations with your freeholder – or handle the negotiations for you – and if you can’t agree a fair price for with your landlord to extend your lease , they have the expertise to help you at any lease extension dispute at the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) – known before July 1st 2013 as the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal or LVT.
Preparing your lease extension documentation
Your specialist solicitor can check the documentation for you to ensure that your freeholder does not try to sneakily amend your lease by changing existing terms or inserting terms that are to your advantage.
If you go ahead and try to agree the documentation without a solicitor, remember that you will be bound by whatever you sign; it will not be sufficient to say that you did not know the legal nature and effect of what you were signing.Such amendments may make the flat unattractive to future buyers and so make the flat difficult to sell.
Your solicitor will also be able to deal with all post-completion matters, including registering the lease extension at HM Land Registry.
DIY lease extension? Do I really need a solicitor? A case study
A few years back, a client came to us having negotiated terms for an informal lease extension with her freeholder directly. She simply wanted us to put this into place.
She hadn’t realised that although she had got a reasonable premium, it had been at the expense of what, over the years, would be a massive hike in the ground rent – increasing to many tens of thousand pounds a year within just a few decades.
This would have made her flat simply unsaleable – an incredibly expensive price to pay for saving a few quid off the price of the premium due to her freeholder. She eventually took our advice and we negotiated a sensible deal with her freeholder.
That’s the danger of a DIY lease extension.
Can your freeholder refuse to grant a lease extension?
In general terms no. Broadly the only grounds where the freeholder a successfully refuse a lease extension are
- if the basic criteria were not met (e.g. if you haven’t owned the property for 2 years, your property is owned by the National Trust, your freeholder is planning to demolish or remodel the property, or it is a shared ownership property)
- if the very strict procedure wasn’t followed.
If the criteria are met and the procedure is followed correctly, then you have a simple legal right to extend your lease. There’s no arguing with that.
However, in addition to acting for leaseholders, we also act for many freeholders – and regularly come across cases where solicitors who don’t really understand lease extension get the procedure wrong – including failing to properly serve the section 42 notice.
If you have a solicitor to help you who understands lease extension, this should not be a problem. But do be very cautious using solicitors who don’t deal with lease extensions regularly.
Far too many dabble in this area – perhaps doing the odd one here and there in addition to handling conveyancing (in contrast we have probably helped around 10,000 people extend their leases successfully). We often have these inexperienced solicitors on the other side and sadly they make a hash of it far too often – which can prove very expensive for their clients.
N.B.One of the most common disputes arising out of extending your lease is in relation to the size of the premium. That doesn’t affect your right to a lease extension – but if you and your freeholder can’t agree, the matter could be referred to the First-Tier Property Tribunal to set a fair premium.
But what happens if my freeholder simply refuses to respond to the notice
If a freeholder refuses to cooperate and follow the statutory timetable for your leasehold extension, your solicitor can apply to the County Court for a Vesting Order. These kind of orders are most typically used when a freeholder cannot be found. However solicitors who really understand lease extensions also use them as an effective way of making the freeholder comply with their legal obligations.
Often, simply threatening to apply for a Vesting Order is sufficient to ensure that an absent freeholder will cooperate. That’s because the consequences of having a Vesting Order made against them doesn’t bode well for the freeholder. If the County Court is satisfied that a Vesting Order should be made, they will transfer the matter to the 1st Tier Property Tribunal to grant your lease extension but based only on your estimate of a reasonable premium – not the freeholders!
Click here to read more about Vesting Orders and your lease extension
Appointing the Right Lease Extension Specialist
Our team are genuine specialists – lease extension and enfranchisement work is all they do. What’s more, we have helped around 10,000 people like you to successfully extend their lease or buy the freehold over the years – so you can rely on the expertise of our team.
Lease Extension Solicitor Reviews – What Our Clients Really Think
But don’t just rely on our word for it. Click here see to read just some some of the testimonials our team have had from satisfied clients and specialist lease extension valuers who refer work to us.
And what’s more, we are the only solicitors recommended for lease extension and freehold purchase work by the HomeOwners Alliance – the country’s premier organisation fighting for the rights of Britain’s homeowners.
Five Critical Questions to Ask Your Solicitor
If you’re still not sure which solicitor to appoint, here are five simple questions to ask;
1. How many residential lease extensions you carry out each year?[Most property solicitors only do one in a blue moon – in contrast, our team expects to carry out up to 500 individual lease extension and freehold purchase transactions in 2023. And we have helped around 10,000 people like you to successfully extend their lease or buy the freehold over the years]
2. Can you let me have any testimonials you’ve had about your lease extension work from satisfied clients or specialist surveyors? [See above for a link to testimonial from our clients and referrals]
3. Can you put me in touch with, or even appoint on my behalf, a specialist lease extension surveyor, local to my property? [We have a panel of specialist lease extension values nationwide – and we are happy to instruct them to value your lease extension on your behalf as part of a one-stop shop.]
4. How many specialist lease extension surveyors regularly refer work to you?
[Our team receive regular referrals from around a dozen specialist surveyors]
5. Can you give me a rough estimate of how much might lease extension will cost in total – include the premium as well as legal and surveying costs? [Our team provide this kind of cost estimate automatically FREE of charge]
For advice to trust from specialist Lease Extension Solicitors, call us today
- For FREE initial phone advice, with no obligation, call us now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544, or
- Send us an email via the contact form below.