When you buy, own or sell a Leasehold property, many of your rights and obligations will be set out in your lease. One of your obligations will be to make certain payments to the person or the organisation responsible for administering and managing your building. That person might be a landlord, a management company, or a managing agent instructed by the landlord or management company (referred to below as "the landlord"). The typed of payments or charges can be divided into three groups. They are:
Your lease may provide for you to make regular payments of ground rent as well as service charges. Although the lease may initially oblige you to pay a fixed amount of ground rent, it may also contain a clause which allows the landlord to increase the rent in years to come. When buying a leasehold property you should always ask your conveyancer to explain if there are any rent review clauses in your lease and explain what this would mean to you in financial terms.
Service charges normally vary according to the amount that is spent by the landlord each year on the upkeep of the building as a whole, including for example, cleaning the communal areas, gardening, maintaining and renewing the structure of the building (including the roof), building insurance. Usually, the lease will oblige you to pay a fixed percentage or a "reasonable proportion" of that amount. You should ask your conveyancer how the service charge is calculated, what it covers and whether the landlord has any plans for expensive remedial works to be carried out to the building for which you will be responsible.
The landlord is likely to make an administration charge if you ask for a service connected with the buying or selling of a leasehold property. The following are examples of these charges you may have to pay,
When you are selling
1. Sellers leasehold pack: When you are selling a leasehold property it will be your responsibility to pay the landlord's charge to provide a Sellers leasehold pack (usually in the form of a Form LPE1) to provide the leasehold information required by your buyer and their lender.
2. Licence to Assign: It is possible that your lease requires you to obtain a licence from the landlord to sell the property. This involves the landlord approving the buyer as a new owner of the property. You may have to pay both the landlord's and landlord's solicitors charges for consenting to the sale and providing the Licence.
3. Exit or Transfer Fee: A retirement flat lease may include an "exit" or "transfer fee" payable by you from the sale proceeds and expressed as a percentage of the property value.
When you are buying
1. Deed of Covenant: Some leases require a buyer to enter into a Deed with the landlord to confirm that you will be bound by the terms of the lease. The buyer has to pay this charge.
2. Notice of Assignment of Transfer and Charge: The landlord will require that a notice is sent to them notifying of the change of ownership and any mortgage lender. This is to ensure that the landlord has your contact details (these may be different from the address of the property you have purchased) for the purpose of sending you ground rent and service charge invoices, and details of works to be carried out to the building.
3. Certificate of Compliance: The landlord may be required to provide this to confirm to the Land Registry that the change of ownership requirements in the lease have been complied with.
4. Share or Membership Transfer Charge: If you are required to become a member of the Management Company then the landlord may make a charge to transfer the share or membership certificate into your name.
To ensure that you are aware of the above charges and procedures, when you are selling or buying leasehold property, you should ask your conveyancer to review the lease and property title at an early stage.
Hughes Paddison has an experienced residential property team who are able to advise on all aspects of leasehold conveyancing whether you are selling or buying. Please contact our residential property team, we will spend time discussing any queries you have concerning the leasehold property you are buying or selling, and provide you with a conveyancing quote.