WHAT IS A LEASE?
A lease is basically a contract between a leaseholder and the landlord. The landlord will usually manage, maintain, insure and repair the building structure, any communal parts and exterior and will charge service charge payments and ground rents to cover the cost of doing this.A leaseholder will usually agree to keep the property in good order, agree adhere to the terms of the lease which can include things like not sub-let or to make structural alterations without the landlord’s consent and agree to pay any ongoing payments under the lease such as service charge and ground rent.
IS THERE AN IDEAL LENGTH OF LEASE?
The length of leases will always vary depending on how old the property is or how long the previous owner(s) have lived their. Generally, lease terms of 99, 125 or sometimes higher are considered usual for a new build property with a brand new lease.
A mortgage lender may stipulate a minimum length of lease such as a minimum unexpired lease term remaining of 75 years before issuing you with a mortgage. Therefore, as a buyer, you will need to ensure you are aware of the remaining term left on the lease and that it is suitable to raise a mortgage succesfully.
AM I ABLE TO EXTEND THE LEASE?
If you own a leasehold house subject to a long lease, provided that you have held the lease for at least two years you will have the legal right to extend your lease by 50 years.
If you own a leasehold flat subject to a long lease, provided that you have held the lease for at least two years you will have the legal right to extend your lease by 90 years. In addition, you would have the right to have any ground rent, payable under the terms of the lease, reduced to a peppercorn rent (effectively zero).
However, if you are buying a leasehold property with a shorter lease than you would like, we would always advise you obtain proper legal advice about the costs involved in doing this before you commit to purhcasing the property.
WHAT ARE SERVICE CHARGES?
The service charge is a fee which the leaseholder pays to the landlord to cover their share of the cost of maintaining the leasehold property. This can include decorating the common areas, cleaning the windows,maintaining any communal garden area's. buildings insurance etc. The lease should specify your share of this charge compared to the overall costs.
The service charges for a leasehold property vary depending on the terms of the lease. It is important that you are aware of all charges and also if there are any planned increases so that you can budget accordingly. It is also improtant that your solicitor makes sure that all arrears of service charge are cleared before you purchase the property.
WHAT IS GROUND RENT?
Ground rent is a fee which the leaseholder pays to the freehold owner to rent the land upon which the leaseholder’s property stands on. The charge can range from a “peppercorn” which equates to zero charge, to thousands of pounds depending upon the terms of the lease. The lease may contain a provision for the ground rent to increase on specified dates during the term.
It is important that you are aware of these payments and understand how they may be increased in the future before you commit to purchase the property.
Once you have found a suitable property buy and your offer has been accepted, your conveyancer with then look to make sure that the terms of the lease are suitable and explain all aspects to you.
If you are considering buying, or indeed selling a Leasehold property, we would love to help you. Why not get in touch for some FREE, no obligation advice?
Until next time!