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Recently asked questions about conveyancing in Lancashire

I have 70 years left on my lease and need a lease extension for my apartment in Lancashire. Conveyancing solicitors on the The Mortgage Works panel can deal with such extensions correct?

Most leasehold conveyancing experts should be able to deal with a lease extension. if you are getting a mortgage then your lender may insist that the lease be extended before competition. The Mortgage Works have specific requirements as set out in the UK Finance Lenders’ Handbook in relation to minimum unexpired lease terms. As of 10/7/2024 the requirements read as follows :

Minimum unexpired lease term is 70 years with 30 years remaining at the end of the mortgage term.
Where the unexpired lease term is different to that recorded on the mortgage offer, the following clarifies if we need to be informed:

Second hand property:
- If the unexpired lease term on the offer is 85 years or more - only advise us if the actual lease term is less than 85 years
- if the unexpired lease term on the offer is less than 85 years – advise us if the actual lease term is different than reported
- For equity share applications - advise us if the actual lease term is different than reported on the offer

New build property:
- If the unexpired lease term stated on the offer is 125 years (flat) / 250 years (house) or more - only advise us if the actual lease term is less than 125 years (flat) / 250 years (house)
- For equity share applications - always advise us if the actual lease term is different than reported on the offer

Lease terms such as ground rent and event fees must be reasonable at all times during the term of the lease and adhere to our requirements below. If you’re unsure as to whether the terms of a lease are unreasonable or onerous, please refer the details to us in plain English for Valuer consideration. If the potentially onerous terms are in relation to the ground rent please include the current ground rent figure per annum, how often it will be reviewed and the price structure it will be reviewed against. See the guidance below.

SECOND HAND PROPERTIES

Unacceptable - advise Issuing Office (Will be declined):
- Unexpired lease term less than 70 years
- Less than 30 years remaining at the end of the mortgage term
- Ground Rent greater than 0.5% of the property value
- Ground Rent doubles less than every 20 years (e.g. doubles every 5, 10 or 15 years) - acceptable if doubles every 20 years or more
- Ground Rent is compounded RPI
- Ground Rent review period less than or equal to 5 years

Refer to Issuing Office (Valuer will consider any impact on valuation figure and marketability):
- Unexpired lease term is 70 to 85 years
- Ground Rent greater than 0.1% and less than or equal to 0.5% of the property value
- Ground Rent escalation is linked to any indices greater than RPI
- Ground Rent escalation is linked to the value of the building*
- Ground Rent review period is greater than 5 and less than 10 years
- Event clauses exist for normal use e.g. changing the carpet, installing a TV aerial etc
- Estate Rent Charges greater than £500 p/a (please provide details of what the charges cover)
- Service Charges greater than 1.0% of property value p/a (please provide details of what the charges cover)
- Anything that appears onerous, unusual or out of the ordinary

Acceptable (no requirement to advise Issuing Office):
- Unexpired lease term greater than 85 years
- Ground Rent less than or equal to 0.1% of the property value
- Ground Rent review period greater than or equal to 10 years
- Ground Rent escalation less than or equal to RPI

NEW BUILD PROPERTIES (includes office conversions)

Unacceptable - advise Issuing Office (will be declined):
- Unexpired lease term less than 125 years on a new build flat or less than 250 years on a new build house
- Any lease which is subject to a ground rent (or annual rent) being charged which is more than on a peppercorn basis
- Any lease which is subject to a ground rent (or annual rent) being reviewed and altered on any review basis or methodology

Refer to Issuing Office (Valuer will consider any impact on valuation figure and marketability):
- Event clauses exist for normal use e.g. changing the carpet, installing a TV aerial etc
- Estate Rent Charges greater than £500 p/a (please provide details of what the charges cover)
- Service Charges greater than 1.0% of property value p/a (please provide details of what the charges cover)
- Anything else appears onerous, unusual or out of the ordinary

Acceptable (no requirement to advise Issuing Office):
- Unexpired lease term greater than or equal to 125 years on a new build flat or greater than or equal to 250 years on a new build house
- A lease subject to a peppercorn ground rent (annual rent) charges

For the avoidance of doubt, any new build properties completed but not sold pre 30 June 2022 will only be acceptable if the lease conforms to the above guidance

* Where the Ground Rent escalation is linked to the value of the building, please provide the following:
- How is the value of the block/unit currently calculated and if the assessment relates to the block(s), how is the Ground Rent calculated/apportioned per property?
- The current valuation and Ground Rent for each unit
- What is the mechanism for future valuations of the block and how is the Ground Rent calculated/apportioned?
- What is the right of appeal? And is this a documented process within the lease?
- Who bears the cost of the valuation (and appeal) process?
- Confirmation the review period is not less than twenty years

LEASE EXTENSIONS

We require all lease extensions to be completed under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 and to meet the above criteria as a minimum. Where you become aware that it does not meet these requirements, please refer to the Issuing Office

Is it correct that all Lancashire CQS (Conveyancing Quality Scheme) solicitors are on the Virgin Money conveyancing panel?

It is true that some lenders now utilise CQS as the kick off point for Panel approval such as HSBC and Santander. The Law Society’s CQS accreditation however is no guarantee to lender panel acceptance. Nevertheless,the CML have indicated that it is likely to become a pre-requisite for solicitor practices wishing to join their approved list of firms.

We expect to receive a DIP from Principality this week so we can work out what to offer on a property we like as otherwise we only have online calculators to go by (which aren't taking into account credit checks etc). Do Principality recommend any Lancashire solicitors on the Principality conveyancing panel, or is it better to go independently?

You will need to appoint Lancashire solicitors independently although you'll need to choose one on the Principality conveyancing panel. The solicitor represents both you and Principality through the process.

My offer on a semi in Lancashire has been agreed to, but there is a chain. The vendors have offered on a property, but it’s not been accepted yet, and have viewings of other properties in the pipeline. I have instructed a high street conveyancing solicitor in Lancashire. What do I do now? When should I get the mortgage application with Leeds Building Society going?

It is normal to have anxieties where there is a chain as you are unlikely to want to be too out of pocket prematurely (mortgage application is in the region of £1k, then valuation, Lancashire conveyancing search fees, etc). The first thing to do is check that your conveyancing practitioner is on the Leeds Building Society conveyancing panel. Concerning the next phase this very much dictated by the specifics of your case, attraction to this property and on the state of the market. During a rising market the majority of purchasers will apply for the mortgage with Leeds Building Society and pay for the valuation and only if it comes back ok would they request their property lawyer to press on with the conveyancing in Lancashire.

I opted to have a survey done on a property in Lancashire ahead of appointing conveyancers. I have been advised that there is a flying freehold overhang to the property. My surveyor has said that some mortgage companies tend not issue a loan on such a home.

It varies from the lender to lender. HSBC has different requirements for example to Halifax. If you call us we can look into this further with the appropriate mortgage company. If you lender is happy to lend one our lawyers can assist as they are used to dealing with flying freeholds in Lancashire. Conveyancing will be smoother if you use a solicitor in Lancashire especially if they are familiar with such properties in Lancashire.

My company is looking to lease a unit on the high street. Can you recommend lawyers offering no-move-no charges for commercial conveyancing in Lancashire for below 2k?

We can recommend firms who have specialist knowledge of commercial conveyancing in Lancashire, including the disposal and acquisition of businesses as well as simply premises. If you are hoping to buy or dispose of a shop, pub, restaurant, office, retail unit or a whole business we will put you in touch with the right firm. Regarding the fees these will vary based on the structure and complexity of the proposed transaction. Let us have your contact information or phone us so that we may supply you with a fixed commercial conveyancing calculation.

Can you provide any top tips for leasehold conveyancing in Lancashire from the perspective of saving time on the sale process?

  • A significant proportion of the delay in leasehold conveyancing in Lancashire can be reduced where you appoint lawyers as soon as your agents start marketing the property and ask them to collate the leasehold information needed by the purchasers’ solicitors.
  • If there is a history of any disputes with your freeholder or managing agents it is essential that these are resolved prior to the flat being marketed. The buyers and their solicitors will be reluctant to purchase a property where there is a current dispute. You will have to accept that you will have to pay any arrears of service charge or resolve the dispute prior to completion of the sale. It is therefore preferable to have any dispute settled prior to the contract papers being issued to the buyers’ solicitors. You are still duty bound to disclose particulars of the dispute to the purchasers, but it is better to present the dispute as over as opposed to unresolved. Many freeholders or managing agents in Lancashire charge for providing management packs for a leasehold premises. You or your lawyers should enquire as to the fee that they propose to charge. The management information can be applied for on or before finding a buyer, thus reducing delays. The average time it takes to receive management information is three weeks. It is the most usual reason for delay in leasehold conveyancing in Lancashire. You may think that you are aware of the number of years remaining on your lease but it would be advisable double-check by asking your conveyancers. A buyer’s conveyancer will not be happy to advise their client to proceed with the purchase of a leasehold property the remaining number of years is under 80 years. In the circumstances it is important at an early stage that you consider whether the lease term requires a lease extension. If it does, contact your solicitors before you put your property on the market for sale. A minority of Lancashire leases require Landlord’s consent to the sale and approval of the buyers. If this is the case, you should place the estate agents on notice to make sure that the purchasers put in hand bank and professional references. The bank reference will need to confirm that the buyers are able to meet the yearly service charge and the actual amount of the service charge should be quoted in the bank’s letter. You will therefore need to provide your estate agents with the service charge figures so that they can pass this information on to the purchasers or their lawyers.

Leasehold Conveyancing in Lancashire - A selection of Questions you should consider before Purchasing

    On the whole the outlay for major works are not included within maintenance charges, albeit that there some managing agents in Lancashire require leasehold owners to pay into a reserve fund and this is used to offset against larger works. You will want to discover as much as you can concerning the managing agents as they can either make living at the property much simpler or uncomfortable. Being a leasehold owner you will be in the clutches of the managing agents from a financial perspective and when it comes to every day issues such as the upkeep of the common parts. Enquire of other people what they think of them. On a final note, investigate as to the dates that the maintenance fees are due to the relevant party and precisely what it includes. Does the lease include onerous restrictions?

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Find out more about how flying freehold can affect your the value of a property.