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Q. I am thinking of buying a property with a short lease – what should I do?

You should take advice from your solicitor before buying. You can ask your seller to start the lease extension process before the sale, if they qualify. The law makes it possible for a buyer to take over the process if the seller has initiated the correct procedures, so you will not have to wait for 2 years to qualify yourself.

Q. How long can I extend my lease for?

If you have a statutory lease extension under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, it will be extended by 90 years. It may be possible to extend your lease by other lengths but this would be by negotiation with your freeholder and would not be covered by the Act (see 'Non-Statutory Process' )

Q. Will my ground rent change?

If your lease is extended under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, the ground rent will become a peppercorn until the lease expires. If the lease is extended informally without the protection of the Act, you may negotiate an increased ground rent, or agree to more ground rent reviews in return for your freeholder agreeing to the extension.

Q. I don't know who my freeholder is or how to find him; can I still get a lease extension?

Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the best way to trace your freeholder. Usually details can be found on ground rent demands. Sometimes, there may be more than one level above you in the chain – if for example your lease was granted by another leaseholder, sometimes called a head landlord who in turn was granted a lease by the freeholder. In such cases, it is usually possible to find all the relevant parties, but your solicitor may make an additional charge for this work, as it is not a standard part of a lease extension case, and therefore not covered by our quote. Your solicitor will tell you what those additional charges will be.

If your freeholder cannot be traced, then an application can be made to the County Court for the lease to be extended in the absence of the freeholder. You need to show that all reasonable efforts have been made to trace the freeholder. Although this work is also not standard, and therefore not covered by our quote, it may be a cheaper option in total, because the lease will normally be granted on the basis of the valuation in your Statutory notice, which will be lower than if a freeholder had put in a counter notice. Your solicitor will give you advice and an estimate of the additional charges, if this applies to you.

Q. What happens if I have to apply to a tribunal?

The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal has the power, in statutory lease extension cases, to decide the premium payable for the lease extension, if it has not been possible to reach agreement. Only a small number of cases reach this stage, the majority are dealt with by negotiation. If you do have to apply to the tribunal, your solicitor and surveyor can deal with this. However, this is not covered by our original quote, and you will be charged separately for this stage. Your solicitor and surveyor will tell you at the outset what their rates for this work will be.

Q. I own a leasehold house - can I extend my lease or buy the freehold?

Yes, but this is covered by different legislation, and it may be advisable to buy the freehold rather than extend the lease (this process is known as leasehold enfranchisement). If you would like to obtain a quote for this, or would like further information please contact us .

Q. Can I buy the freehold of my flat?

In certain circumstances, tenants can group together to purchase the freehold of their building. This is a complex process, requiring the consent of the majority of the affected leaseholders, and there are detailed qualifying criteria. If you would like to obtain a quote for this, or would like further information please contact us.

Q. Do I need to pay Stamp Duty?

You will only have to pay stamp duty if the premium for the extension is over the minimum threshold (for current rates and bands, see HMRC). If stamp duty applies to you it will be included in your quote.

Q. What will a lease extension cost?
To obtain an extension to your lease you have to pay a premium to your freeholder. This figure is determined by a surveyor, who calculates a proposed figure, based on a number of factors including the remaining term of the lease and the value of the property. This figure has to be negotiated with your freeholder and in statutory cases, where negotiations fail, it is determined by the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. In addition to the premium, you will have to pay the professional fees of your solicitor and surveyor and also your freeholder's valuation and legal costs as well. Our comparison service ensures that your professional fees are very competitive, whilst giving you the reassurance that the professionals you instruct are of a high quality. You will know the cost up front, giving you peace of mind by getting a quote now.