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Should I engage a lease extension solicitor during the coronavirus lockdown?

Posted 01/05/2020

 

Many leaseholders delay extending their lease, but with many people finding themselves working from home and not having to commute, or potentially on furlough, now might be the ideal time to gather the information you need to properly consider extending your lease. Particularly as extending the lease can add significant value to your leasehold property but can also make it easier to re-mortgage or sell.

Lease extension solicitors at Holmes & Hills have been contacted by a growing number of leaseholders during the Coronavirus lockdown period who are finding themselves with more time to investigate the benefits of extending their lease but also taking advantage of the offer of free initial advice on extending a lease.

Questions posed by leaseholders when they speak with a specialist solicitor often include:

How much will a lease extension cost?

Leaseholders have several costs to cover:

  • Legal fees of the leaseholder’s lease extension solicitor (including a small number of disbursements).
  • Reasonable legal fees of the freeholder’s solicitor.
  • Fees for having a surveyor specialising in lease extensions to survey and value the property and lease extension (subject to the circumstances surrounding the extension, the property and the leaseholder’s situation this may or may not be required).
  • The freeholder’s survey costs – which will be incurred whether or not you the leaseholder have a survey undertaken.
  • The lease extension premium – the amount being paid to the freeholder in exchange for the additional years.

 

What is the first step to extending my lease?

For a leaseholder, one of the most difficult aspects of extending a lease is knowing what to do. Therefore, the first step in extending your lease is to gather information and get advice so that you can make informed decisions. Calling the lease extension specialists at Holmes & Hills Solicitors and receiving free initial advice from an expert is an excellent starting point. There is a lot to think about in relation to extending your lease and it is important that you are informed and aware of your rights as well as the likely costs. Following initial advice from Holmes & Hills, the next step (if you decide to proceed now) is to make a formal (or informal) approach to your freeholder.

 

How long will it take to extend my lease?

How long it will take to extend your lease will depend on whether it is necessary to proceed on a formal or informal basis. Often, proceeding on an informal basis can provide for a lease being extended on a shorter timescale, however the informal route is not always possible or appropriate. Our specialist lease extension solicitors are able to advise you on what may be the best route to take given your circumstances.

Proceeding through the formal (statutory) lease extension process means the leaseholder and the freeholder must adhere to a strict timescale. This includes, for instance, the freeholder having 21 days from receiving the formal notice (Section 42) to request evidence of the leaseholder having the statutory right to extend. The freeholder also has two months from receiving a formal notice to serve a counter notice. As you can see, how quickly a lease extension proceeds can depend greatly on how quickly freeholders respond to communications and notices.

From starting a formal lease extension process through to signing and registering the new lease can take between 3 and 12 months.

When proceeding with a lease extension informally, the leaseholder and freeholder are not required to adhere to a formal timescale. However, this can be a good or a bad thing for leaseholders. If a leaseholder begins the process of extending the lease informally, but the freeholder is slow to respond to communications or employs delaying tactics, the informal process can take longer than the formal process. If dealing with a freeholder becomes particularly difficult, or negotiations between a leaseholder and freeholder become strained or hit a dead-end with no agreement, it may become necessary to commence the formal process, which of course could have commenced sooner.

Of course, in situations where leaseholders and freeholders are amicable and are both reasonable in their negotiations and timely in responding to communications, informal lease extensions can be completed in less than two months.

 

Get free initial advice from a lease extension solicitor:

If you are considering extending your lease, call 01376 32056 and speak to a specialist lease extension solicitor at Holmes & Hills. Using the extra time you have during lockdown to gather information will mean you are well-placed to get the ball rolling once you ready to do so.




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