Lease extensions for council property

For Brighton and Hove council property only where the remaining lease term has over 80 years left.

The Leaseholders Action Group have negotiated with two local specialists in Lease Extensions to offer Leaseholders a simple, cost effective route to extend their flat leases with reduced professional fees i.e. both legal and valuation estimated at £1,000 + VAT (£1,200) which is a significant reduction on usual rates.

Valuers

Austin Gray are Chartered Surveyors and Valuers who specialise in Lease Extensions. They are RICS Registered Valuers. They will undertake the Valuation for the cost of extending your lease and advise on valuation issues for the Lease Extension.

Burt Brill & Cardens are a long established and experienced firm of solicitors who specialise in the legal aspect of Lease Extensions. This will include serving a Notice on the Council (called a section 42) and taking the matter through to legal completion and registering your new lease.

Background

Given that the majority of Flat leases originally issued by Brighton and Hove Council are very similar, the firms above are able to offer a discounted fee rate for their advice. This is only relevant to flats where the freehold is owned by Brighton and Hove Council (BHCC) with in excess of 80 years remaining on the lease. In the rare case that your lease has less than 80 years remaining, you will need to speak to one of our Team for additional advice and the fee will be higher than the discounted level quoted here. If this is the case, please call Jenni Freeborn (Chartered Surveyor) on 01273 201985 or email her at jennifreeborn@austingray.co.uk

After you have extended your lease;

a) You pay no further ground rent

b) Your lease gets extended for a further term of 90 yrs.- (so, if you lease is currently 87 years long, it will have a term of 177 years after your extension)

Step1 – Valuation

The first step is the valuation.

Once you have completed the form, Austin Gray will email you a Terms of Engagement letter for their services. Within approximately 7 days, Austin Gray will email you a valuation report and a copy of that report will be automatically sent to Solicitors Burt Brill Cardens, together with a copy lease, and Title documents. You need to pay the Valuation fee before we commence the report.

The fee is £360 (£300 + VAT)

BACS details

  • Sort Code: 20-12-75
  • Account No: 43438805
  • Account Name: Austin Gray

You must use the following reference on your bank transfer; LA/followed by your surname

If your surname on the form below is NOT the same as your Bank Account, please phone Melanie Vaughan at Austin Gray 01273 201986 or email her – melanievaughan@austingray.co.uk so that we are able to trace the payment.

How the valuation works

The Valuation will be on a desktop basis, i.e. there will be no physical inspection of the flat by Austin Gray. This is because for this valuation the condition of the flat is irrelevant. We will base our valuation on comparable evidence in your block.

That means recent sales of similar flats in your block or in similar adjoining blocks.

With a long lease such as yours and a fixed ground rent (of only £10 pa in most cases) we can give you a realistic range for the price you would expect to pay to the Council.

For example-purposes only, we may say your lease extension will cost you between £2,500-£3,000. In some cases, the spread may be a little wider.

This advice note was produced as at November 2019 and legislation may change in respect of lease extensions.

Step 2

Once you receive the Valuation report, Burt Brill & Cardens will email you for your instructions to proceed and then they will serve a Notice on the Council (a section 42). We will have sent them a copy of the report After the Notice is served this starts the legal timetable and procedure.

At that stage the Council will either

  1. Accept your offer price in the notice
  2. OR as a result of their own valuation negotiate a slightly higher figure – which SHOULD be within our band we have provided you within our report.

In our experience, the matter is unlikely to be contentious (i.e. difficult)  due to the long length of the lease and the fixed ground rent unless there are special circumstances and we would have pointed out any unusual issues in respect of the valuation out to you in our report.

Under the 1993 Act, the law states that the flat owner is not only responsible for their own professional fees but also the Solicitors fees and the Valuers fees for the Freeholder and these must be reasonable.

BURT BRILL & CARDENS will issue you with their terms of engagement on receipt of our Valuation report. Their fees are estimated at £6-£700 +VAT.

You are not committed to using Burt Brill & Cardens – you may use your own solicitor if you wish-but please advise us in the form below under “Additional Comments”. We will then send a copy of the report to your Solicitors

FAQs

Why do I need a lease extension?

When you decide to sell your flat, any lease approaching 80 years or below will create difficulties on sale as a purchaser’s solicitors will regularly advise of the potential cost and difficulty of saleability to their client.

This usually creates a delay while enquiries are made to your solicitor and then to the Freeholder who in this case will advise that they will only entertain a lease extension by a statutory route (ie. you have to serve a Notice-and this can take up to 9 months to conclude).

These difficulties may result in your purchaser requesting a reduction in price, or more likely withdrawing from the purchase.

Even if you were to offer a reduction in price, the buyer has no guarantee that he/she could acquire a lease extension from the Freeholder subsequently, as a flat owner will have to have owned the flat for a minimum of two years before qualifying for a lease extension.

The cost of the lease extension will certainly increase the shorter the lease becomes.

This can also apply when you want to re-mortgage your flat. Increasingly, lenders are insisting on a lease extension when the term has fallen below 85 years.

Therefore, obtaining a lease extension (if your lease is around 80 years, or less) will protect the value of your flat and improve saleability.

What is a lease?

Most flats and a few houses in England and Wales are owned under long leases, with long in this instance meaning longer than 21 years.

Because of a legal difficulty in making obligations run with successive owners of the property, the lease is a useful device as every time the property is bought and sold, all of the existing obligations in the leasehold contract are transferred to the new owner.

In shared property the leasehold contract sets out what parts of the building belong to the leaseholder (usually, but not always, these are the internal parts of the property itself). Normally the structural elements and exterior belong to the freeholder. This person is generally the freehold owner.

Generally speaking, the parts of the building outside the property itself, including the ground beneath it and the space above, belong to the freeholder. The one disadvantage of this system is that a lease is a ‘time limited’ interest in land. Therefore, as time goes on the length of the lease (and the capital value) diminishes.

The lease is of a predetermined length and will eventually expire. When it runs out, the freeholder can take back the keys of the property. In reality, this day seldom comes because circumstances will force the owner to do something about the diminishing lease (and there are rights to remain in occupation paying a rent). But theoretically the property will revert to the ownership of the freeholder, who is sometimes called the ‘reversioner’ as a result.

There are no two ways about it. The leasehold flat or house is a wasting asset as a result of the shortening lease. The closer the lease gets to zero years unexpired, the more it reduces the value of the property. Of course, in a rising market, this is more than outweighed much of the time by the appreciation in the value of the property. In a static property market, a diminishing lease will gradually reduce the value of the property, all other things remaining equal.

After I have my lease extended, what do I get?

The right to a Lease Extension is provided by the Leasehold Reform Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended) and is a grant of an extension to the existing lease term for a further 90 years.  Therefore, if your present lease has 75 years to run, you will end up with a lease of 165 years.

You are also entitled to extinguish your ground rent, so after the grant of a lease extension you pay a peppercorn rent (i.e. rent free) throughout the entire existing and extended term.

You can now sell or re-mortgage your flat with the lease term or ground rent being an issue.

Can anyone extend their lease?

There are certain qualifications, but the main ones are as follows:

1) The lease has to be in excess of 21 years when originally granted

2) You have to have owned the flat for a minimum period of 2 years

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