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Big rise in demand for advice on leasehold law

LEASE will deal with over 35,000 direct enquiries this year, 24% up on the previous year, and over 430,000 people will consult its web site, many viewing its widely-respected and detailed advice guides. Service charges are the biggest worry for leaseholders, and currently account for nearly a fifth of direct enquiries to LEASE.

Few people can claim really to understand leasehold law, and that lack of understanding can lead to unnecessary disputes and heartache. The complex legislation – there are a dozen or more statutes that apply –  affects at least three million people living in leasehold flats and houses, the landlords who have  £trillions of capital tied up  and the managing agents, valuers and solicitors who provide professional services for them.

While requests for help from leaseholders of flats and houses in the private sector , those who manage their buildings themselves or who have acquired their flats under the right to buy accounts for most of LEASE’s substantial workload, the organisation also provides valuable resources and support for professionals involved in the leasehold sector. As Anthony Essien, chief executive of LEASE said:  "If they get it right in the first place, many of the problems we see could be avoided, saving everyone a lot of time and, potentially, money."

To this end LEASE holds an annual conference to update lawyers, valuers, property managers and estate agents. With the Master of the Rolls and the chief executive of the Cadogan Estate both agreeing to speak at this May’s LEASE conference, it is clear that leasehold really does matter. (www.lease-advice.org/conference).

In the past it has been questions about how leaseholders can go about buying their freehold has topped the league, but this has dropped back from 19%  to just 10% last year.

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One thought on “Big rise in demand for advice on leasehold law

  1. Robert Warren says:

    Beware! Anyone who is considering extending their lease.

    I have just extended the lease on my apartment.(sixty years remaining). The freeholder proved to be very difficult to deal with, asking £21000 for an extension valued by a surveyor at £14,500. After more than a year and a further £3000 out of pocket on solicitor’s/valuer’s fees the freeholder has (just before the set tribunal date) agreed on £15,000.
    It has taken so long because the freeholder tried to put into the new lease £150,00 per annum ground rent which doesn’t sound a bad deal, however, read on. There are two very important points which I would have overlooked if I didn’t have a solicitor who specialised in lease extensions. One is that in the 1990’s a new act was passed that states that the leaseholder has the right to ninety years on top of the present term, which in my case gives me 150 years on the new, extended lease. Also the leaseholder does not need to pay any ground rent on a lease extended after this act was brought in. The freeholder wrote into the new lease that the ground rent will double every 10 years, which doesn’t sound unreasonable on the face of it. But he put in also that it would start at the ‘beginning’ of the lease term. This means that from the start of the lease in 1950 the £150,00 would be doubled every ten years from 1950. I spoke to a neighbour who had recently extended her lease and who’s solicitor,(unfortunately not specialised in lease extensions), overlooked the line stating that the ground rent doubling to start from the beginning of the lease term. She is now paying over £600 a year in ground rent as opposed to the normal £200,00 that most of the other leaseholders are paying. If her solicitor was aware of the 1990’s act she would now not be paying any ground rent at all.

    Thank God not all freeholders are as difficult as mine but I thought this little comment may help some people before they make any costly mistakes.
    if anyone would like any further advice, (free of charge, of course) they can contact me on robert.warren3@virginmedia.com.

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