Attwells are lease extension solicitors offering fixed fee lease extension legal services for both landlords and tenants across North London, Colchester and Ipswich. We are an awarding property law firm who specialise in jargon-free law.
Leases are commonly known as a diminishing asset. This means that the lease term gradually shortens as time goes on. Leases with less than 80 years may be difficult to sell or to secure a mortgage on.
It is therefore important to extend the lease either by agreement, or by serving notice, well before this point to safeguard the value of your property.
If you have an agreement with your Freeholder then the process is straightforward. We can help you record this or negotiate it as necessary before arranging registration at the Land Registry.
The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended) enables tenants to extend their lease by 90 years in addition to the current unexpired term at a nil ground rent (£0), in return for paying the Freeholder a premium.
In order to qualify for this process the flat must be held under a long residential lease (i.e. originally granted for a term of more than 21 years) and the flat must have been owned for more than 2 years.
This process involves serving a S.42 Notice upon the Freeholder setting out basic details about the flat and the premium you would be willing to pay for the extension.
The Freeholder then has the right to respond with a Counter-Notice setting out what terms they propose or if they don’t believe that you have the right to an extension.
This is typically followed by a period of negotiation and if an agreement cannot be reached the matter can be referred to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to make a ruling.
Notice of Claim
- In order to apply for an extended lease you must serve notice on your landlord. The notice served upon your landlord will include the premium you expect to pay for the new lease. For the purposes of negotiation your valuer will often advise you to put in a figure less than that which you ultimately expect to pay.
- The date of service of the notice of claim is the "valuation date", which will be used to calculate the amount of premium to be paid.
- Our fees for taking your instructions, liaising with your valuer, preparing the notice and ensuring that it is properly served on all of the relevant parties are fixed at £395 + vat.
- We recommend that the notice is registered at the Land Registry once served, this will protect your claim in the event that the freeholder were to sell the freehold during the currency of your claim. Our fees for registering the notice are £150 + vat plus a Land Registry Fee of £40.
- Once you have served notice on your landlord, he or she then has a period of two months within which to respond. The landlord will ask for a deposit to be paid which will amount to 10% of the premium that you have specified in the notice of claim. The landlord will also request access to the flat in order to carry out a valuation of the property. The landlord will then serve a counter-notice which will usually admit the claim and will contain counter-proposals in respect of the premium to be paid.
- It is possible for the landlord to reject a claim, for example where the landlord has clear plans to redevelop the building. In order to reject the claim the landlord must make an application to the court and prove the grounds for the rejection. Our fee for receipting and reporting to you on the counter notice are £150 + vat.
Once your landlord has served a counter-notice on you admitting the claim, the parties will commence negotiations for the premium to be paid for the new lease and the form of the new lease. Your valuer will conduct the negotiations for the premium to be paid. During this time we will monitor the progress of the negotiations, supply any information that we are asked for and ensure that any key deadlines are met in order to protect your claim. Our fee for this work is fixed at £250 + vat.
First-tier (Property) Tribunal – sometimes required but usually avoided
In the event that negotiations are stalling either party may apply to the First-tier (Property) Tribunal for the dispute regarding the price or the lease terms to be determined. Such an application must be made by one of the parties before the end of six months following service of the counter-notice otherwise the claim for a new lease is deemed to have been withdrawn and you will be unable to make a further claim for a period of one year after that date.
Even where it is expected that the lease terms will be agreed between the parties it would be usual to apply to the Tribunal for a hearing date as this acts to focus the minds of the parties to bring negotiations to an end. The hearing date is usually three to four months after the application is made. Our fee for making the tribunal application is £525 + vat. These costs are typically incurred in only about 40% of the cases that we deal with.
Whilst it might be necessary to make the application to the tribunal to protect your claim (because time is running out and terms have not been agreed) it is rare for the tribunal to actually decide the lease terms. This is because a hearing at the Tribunal to determine the premium or terms in dispute can be expensive and would only be advised where the difference between the valuers is significant and the gain would warrant any potential costs. Our fees for preparing the documents necessary to present your case at the tribunal is £525 + vat but this does not include the cost of presenting your case which will involve the instruction of your valuer or an expert barrister. These costs are only incurred in about 5% of all cases we deal with.
The lease will be completed following agreement of the premium and the terms of the new lease. The lease extension should be completed within two months of the terms being agreed as, after that time has elapsed, either party may apply to the court to strike out the claim. The parties may apply for an extension of time but if the new lease is not completed within four months and the parties have not applied for an extension the claim is deemed to have been withdrawn and you will be unable to make a claim for a further period of one year after that date. Our fees for completing and registering the new lease (including its negotiation and all associated advice) are £950 + vat plus a Land Registry fee of £40 and final searches at £10.
What is included in the price:
- Initial telephone conversation
- Review of documentation in advance of drafting notice of claim
- Regular updates
- Answering any questions as they arise
What is excluded from the price:
- Meeting at your local office with a lawyer (can be arranged at additional cost)
- Our fees for tribunal applications cover only the making of those applications and preparing the documents for them, representation at the hearing is not included and options will be discussed as and when the need arises
- Your valuation costs which are payable to your professional valuer are not included
- Your freeholder’s professional costs are not included within this quotation
- Legal advice outside of the service requested
Land Registry fees as stated above.
How long will it take?
From service of the notice to completion of the new lease, the average formal lease extension takes about 6 months.
When will I pay?
Attwells Solicitors will ask you for money on account in advance of the reviewing your documents and drafting the advice letter so that work can get underway on your matter immediately.