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Recently asked questions about conveyancing in London

Having sold my house in London last July but the buyer keeps SMS messaging daily to say their lawyer is waiting to hear from mine. What are the post completion sale formalities following completion?

Following your house sale your conveyancer should forward the transfer documentation and all of the paperwork to the purchaser's solicitors. If applicable, your solicitor must also send confirmation that the home loan has been paid off to the purchasers solicitors. There is unlikely to be post completion tasks just for conveyancing in London.

I have Fifty Six years remaining on my lease and need a lease extension for my flat in London. Conveyancing solicitors on the Nationwide Building Society panel can deal with such extensions right?

Most leasehold conveyancing experts should be able to deal with a lease extension. if you are obtaining a mortgage then your lender may insist that the lease be extended before competition. Nationwide Building Society have specific requirements as set out in the UK Finance Lenders’ Handbook in relation to minimum unexpired lease terms. As of 27/1/2021 the requirements read as follows :

- Our minimum unexpired lease term is 55 years.
- There must be at least 30 years remaining at the end of the mortgage term (regardless of the length of lease at the start).

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 55 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 is 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 55 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 0.5% 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 (does not apply to Shared Ownership)
- Starting Ground Rent greater than 0.1% of the property value
- Ground Rent review period less than or equal to every 5 years
- 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

Refer to Issuing Office (Valuer will consider any impact on valuation figure and marketability):
- Ground Rent is linked to any indices greater than RPI
- Ground Rent is linked to the value of the building*
- 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 0.5% 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
- Starting Ground Rent less than or equal to 0.1% of the property value
- Ground Rent review period greater than 5 years
- Ground Rent escalation less than or equal to RPI

* 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.

I am buying a new build flat in London. Conveyancing is daunting at the best of times but I have never purchased a new build flat before. Can you give me some examples of some of the questions asked in new build legal work.

Set out below is a sample of a selection of leasehold new build enquiries that you can expect your new-build leasehold conveyancing in London

    Has the Lease plan been approved by the Land Registry and if not when will they be lodged for this purpose? Please supply a car parking plan. There must be mutual enforceability of lessee’s covenants. Where there is an Undertaking being granted there is the risk of forfeiture of the Headlease subject to relief if one or more of the Underlessees are willing to accept the original Head Lessee’s obligations as otherwise relief will be denied to the Underlessees. The only alternatives are the Head Lessor agreeing not to forfeit the Headlease or the Head Lessee guaranteeing to the Underlessees that it will not be in breach of the Headlease.

Should I go with a London conveyancing practitioner who is local to the property I am hoping to buy? I have an old university friend who can handle the legal formalities but they are based over three hundred miles drive away.

The benefit of a high street London conveyancing practice is that you can visit the firm to sign documents, deliver your ID and pester them where appropriate. They will also have local knowledge which is a benefit. That being said nothing is more important than finding someone that will pull out all the stops for you. If other friends have instructed your friend and the majority were impressed that must surpass using an unknown London conveyancing lawyer just because they are round the corner.

Me and my husband have just had a bid accepted on our first home in London, and are now looking to get solicitors instructed. I have used the numerous rating based websites and the quotes are from all across the the UK. Is it important to have a London property lawyer local to the prospective new home? We are content to do all the communicating over the internet, but I am thinking at some stage we may need to physically go into the lawyer's office to sign contracts?

There is no requirement to attend the office of your solicitor, they can post any relevant contracts to you, which you can sign and return. Many buyers and sellers prefer to instruct a locally based solicitor, but it is not essential for conveyancing in London.

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