How can I extend the lease on my flat?

I currently own a flat which is leasehold but the lease is only for 50 years. I want to stay in the property but would like to have the the security of a longer lease. What steps do I have to follow to negotiate a new longer lease with the leaseholder?

Alana from Liverpool

Answer

How do I get a new lease granted for my home?

As each year passes on your lease the value of your property or asset diminishes. By extending the lease on your flat you protect your asset from decreasing in value. When a lease term runs to around 45 – 40 years or below it can become difficult to obtain a mortgage or remortgage the property. In turn this may effect your ability to sell the property and thus may decrease the value of your flat.

How do I extend my lease?

We would advise that you instruct a solicitor and a surveyor who has plenty of experience in the process. It is a relatively complex process which, if mistakes are made, can be costly in terms of time and money.

The first thing to do is serve a Section 42 Notice on the landlord and any intermediate landlord. The landlord should then respond with a Section 45 Notice which states their counter offer before a period of negotiation follows to eventually agree on a price.

If an agreement cannot be reached, either side can apply to the First-tier Tribunal so a third party can decide on the premium.

For lease extension claims you must pay a premium and a deposit amounting to 10% of that premium to the landlord.

Can the landlord refuse to grant an extension?

Provided that the leaseholder and the property qualify and a valid Notice has been served under either the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 or the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act (as amended) 1993 then the freeholder is obliged to extend the lease or sell the freehold.

Once the Notice has been received, a response must be made within two months from the date the Notice was served, or else the leaseholder may be able to obtain the extension or purchase the freehold for the price stated in the Notice.

Do you qualify for a lease extension?

To qualify for a lease extension you must: 

1. Own a long lease, i.e. a lease which was originally granted for a term of at least 21 years.

2. Have owned the flat for a minimum of two years. If you are purchasing the property with a short period of the lease left, the seller can serve the notice of claim before the sale and then after the sale has completed this right can then be transferred to you the purchaser.

3. There must be at least two flats in the building and at least 50% of the leaseholders have to participate in the purchase of the freehold.

By how many years can I extend my lease?

If proceeding with your claim under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended), the lease will be extended by 90 years. If extending outside of the Act, you may be able to agree a different length of extension.

When should the leaseholder extend?

If the unexpired lease length on the property is nearing 80 years, a leaseholder would normally be advised to extend in order to minimise costs -  especially as if the lease falls below 80 years, marriage value also becomes payable to the landlord which increases the price to extend.

How much will I have to pay to extend my lease?

This is very difficult to answer as it varies from property to property. It will depend on the freehold value of the property, the number of years remaining on the lease and the level of ground rents being paid now and due to be paid in the future.

The difference between the amount that you would pay to extend your lease by the statutory 90 years and the amount you would pay to buy the freehold is minimal, i.e. 1-2%.

We would advise you seek a professional valuation by someone who carries out valuations under the Leasehold Reform legislation on a regular basis.

The process involved in extending your lease, can be complex and we would always recommend that a specialist solicitor acts on your behalf.

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