Landlord Fees for Transfer Registration

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  • Macclad
    started a topic Landlord Fees for Transfer Registration

    Landlord Fees for Transfer Registration

    Hi All

    I have POA for my mother who is currently buying a house in Manchester. We have reached the stage where I am near to signing the contract (The property is £230,000)

    Last week I received from my solicitor the Lease management pack which was dated 1967 but written in ‘old speak’. The solicitor kindly interpreted all of the important detail . The Lease did not detail the ground rent but I understand this to be £12.00 PA which is what I would have expected. The Lease also clearly states that there is a sum payable to the Landlord of 2 Guineas by the purchaser on completion. Just yesterday I received from my solicitor a bunch of documentation to read and sign, one of which is the registration fee for the Landlord/Estate Management company of £385.00. There is no breakdown, it is just a standard form which has blanks for the property information etc. I have never seen anything so uninformative in my entire life, it just looks like a scam piece of paper for a demand that I could have created!

    So my question is, if the Lease actually states a figure of "2 guineas for registration of such notice" which I understand to be around £2.10, then can they legally charge a price as high as £385 or are they just trying it on? If I say I will pay the £2.10 as stated in the Lease where do I stand legally on this? Surely I just pay what the lease says?

    I have instructed my solicitor to look into this for me but in the interim any advice on where I stand with this would be much appreciated. I am not sure that the solicitor knows what the answer is but he has indicated that this is surprisingly high and that a figure of around £100-150 would be more reasonable.

    Many thanks in advance for any advice on this matter.

    Laurence

  • Macclad
    replied
    Great, thanks once again.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    When it comes to notices, the key point is whether service of the notice can be proved, not whether the recipient confirms receipt. A file copy of a letter in a solicitor's file is pretty much evidence that the letter was sent. If the landlord comes back and argues he wants a fee, he has confirmed receipt and put the matter beyond doubt. He will also confirm receipt if the next rent demand is addressed to your mother or he otherwise addresses any communication to her by name. There is no question of the landlord refusing to "accept" the notice until a fee is paid.

    If the landlord comes back wanting a fee your solicitor should write back saying that there is no doubt whatsoever that a fee in excess of two guineas cannot be demanded and that he is instructed not to respond to any further correspondence on the matter.

    Leave a comment:


  • Macclad
    replied
    Ok so the response from my solicitor is along the lines of:

    I confirm that we can serve Notice of Assignment of the Lease to (Landlord) as you suggest. The potential difficulty arises if the landlord refuses to receipt the Notice. However there is an argument that if it responds to us querying the amount of fee we send, then by simply responding the landlord has acknowledged receipt of the Notice. You, perhaps, therefore need to be prepared for some potential difficulties with the landlord on this point.

    Looks like I need to be prepared for some shenanigans if the landlord doesn't respond or receipt the notice. Ho hum, bring it on then!

    Leave a comment:


  • Macclad
    replied
    I await my solicitors response to my final queries tomorrow, I am not expecting any more niggles now (crossed fingers!). Lawcruncher, I hear what you are saying with regards the solicitors demeanour, you're probably right.

    Just briefly returning to the point about what I should expect as a client though, I have obviously found out advice and a solution to my particular problem on here through you good people - not my solicitor. The communication streams I have had with him tend to pass through legal secretaries and responses to queries are quite short and sweet for the most part. That's great for the simple stuff and it's great when things are going smoothly. But I feel as if this problem has been left to me to research rather than receive forthcoming advice on how to proceed from my solicitor. I understand that whatever line of work a person is in they will have different levels of experience. But is this not something that an experienced conveyancing solicitor who has served many notices would pick up and advise on? Maybe my expectations are too high. A call and a chat might have gone a long way to reducing my cortisol levels!

    I'll get my brain out of gear and move onto other things - for the moment .

    Leave a comment:


  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Serving a notice of assignment is a routine task for a conveyancer. It has assumed significant proportions here because of the landlord's outrageous and unjustifiable fee demand. I think we have knocked that on the head. Having done so, I think the matter can safely be left in your solicitor's hands subject only to suggesting he asks for the landlord's solicitor's details so he can serve notice on them. If your solicitor appears relaxed over this aspect it is because he (correctly) sees no real problem.

    Leave a comment:


  • Macclad
    replied
    Many thanks for this once again Lawcruncher. I do believe my conveyancer fits in to your assessment. It is not everyday I have to buy and sell houses, so my dealing with solicitors are few and far between. I am in no position to comment generally, but my solicitor tends to give understated hints that he agrees with me on certain issues. However I don't really feel supported by him, certainly with this particular problem.

    To be served with the Notice fee problem right at the death seems odd to me. Why didn't I have this problem sorted earlier in the process? Why is he not giving me some advice on what to do? I understand the conveyancing process involves gathering information from various sources, this involves time and there will be multiple jobs to work on. But I am an uniformed client, I don't know what nastys lie around the corner and I hope he would have my best interests at heart. After all I am paying him good money for his services. My profession as a structural engineer means that I like to solve problems and learn new 'stuff' - and I am learning very fast from this excellent community on here!

    Leave a comment:


  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    The lease has a specific obligation: To give notice to the landlord's solicitors and pay a fee of two guineas. If that is done the requirement is complied with and there can be no breach of covenant.

    Obviously to comply with the obligation you need to know who the landlord's solicitors are. If you do not know you ask the landlord.

    If the landlord declines to say who his solicitors are he cannot complain if the notice is not served.

    If he says to serve the notice on him that waives the requirement to serve it on his solcitors and you serve the notice on him. What he cannot do is to ask for the two guineas because the lease only provides for a fee to be paid to his solicitor.

    What the landlord certainly cannot do is unilaterally alter the terms of the lease. He can only insist on complying with the clause as it stands.

    If I were acting and on completion did not have the solicitor's details I would write to the landlord in the following terms:

    We act for X who has completed the purchase of Y.

    The lease requires notice of assignment to be served on your solicitors. If you let us have their name and address we shall serve notice on them.

    In the meantime so that you can bring your records up-to-date we set out below details of the assignment:

    [set out details]


    The above gives the landlord all the information he would get from a notice served on his solicitors so he cannot argue he has lost out in any way by such a notice not being served. Further, if he fails to advise his solicitor's details he cannot hold you in breach for failure to serve the notice.

    Too many landlords/managing agents make it up as they go along and, regrettably, far too many conveyancers let them get away with it for an easy life. Most landlords and agents will back off when confronted by a lawyer who stands up for his client.

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  • JK0
    replied
    If it's the company I think you mean, they are 'solicitors' themselves when it suits them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Macclad
    replied
    Hi All

    I think I have problems.

    I requested that my solicitor send the £2.10 to the landlords solicitor. They have come back and said yes, we will send it to the Landlord - that was yesterday. I have quizzed this further and they have said they are sending it to the Estate Management company (SE) who is apparently the Landlord, quote:

    "I appreciate the Lease refers to notice being served on the Landlord’s Solicitor, but the details supplied now require Notice to be sent directly to the Landlord".


    Now I am really worried!! I need to keep my contact with these people to nil! What details supplied? I presume I can ask the solicitor to dig further now.? I am getting the impression that my solicitor can't be bothered and just wants to get to the end.

    Any advice gratefully received of course - another sleepless night now!!

    If the Notice is served to the Estate Management company do they have any leverage to try to get their fee?

    Many thanks.

    Leave a comment:


  • Macclad
    replied
    I think the Estate Management Company would probably quadruple the figure, and add £500! Everyone I have spoken to has been flabbergasted by the sums being asked for. I really want as little dealings with these people as possible.

    Priority now is to get my Mum settled close to me as quickly as possible having hopefully resolved the sizeable Notice fee issue - as I say I will keep you posted and I will look into the purchase of the freehold down the line. I know that one or two of the properties along her street are now freehold so I might politely ask the neighbours when I get the opportunity.

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  • JK0
    replied
    I wonder if previous owner could request to buy freehold, and execute it on sale to you?

    A fair cost is ten to twenty times ground rent, but who knows what management company might ask.

    Leave a comment:


  • Macclad
    replied
    I have taken on-board Lawcrunchers advice and have advised my solicitor accordingly. He has agreed to send the £2.10 to the Landlord (he didn't say Landlord's solicitor although I explicitly asked this so I am querying that point). He has sent me the following:

    1. A response to my queries
    2. An official copy of register of title
    3. An electronic copy of the lease which I already have
    4. And an email stream requesting receipt of ground rent paid to the Estate Management company.

    The title of register clearly states 12 p.a. ground rent. I cannot detect anything which looks like a deed of variation but I wouldn't know really.
    The email stream included looks like the Estate Management company want £50 for an official ground rent receipt. I only wanted proof of ground rent price so I presume the register of title does this - I have asked for the seller not to fork out this money to pay for this - I wouldn't wish anyone to have dealings with this company!

    That's it so far. I will keep you posted on progress.

    The subject of buying the freehold has been on my mind, but I was of the understanding that this could only be done once my mum had been in the property 2 years? I would be very interested on your views on this as raised in the last couple of posts, and how you go about calculating the cost.

    Once again I am indebted to you all for your advice and help.




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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Originally posted by Gordon999 View Post
    How many years left on the lease for the house ?
    Term is 999 years from 1st January 1967.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gordon999
    replied
    How many years left on the lease for the house ? The annual ground rent is £12 p.a and the registration fee is 2 Guineas ?

    We can calculate the cost to buy the freehold title if we know the years still unexpired on the lease.

    The Law Commission is holding a public consultation on what to pay for enfranchising a leasehold house ? .

    And you can make your contribution to Law Commission before 7 Jan 2019 with a complaint for Registration fee demanded at £385 when the lease states it should be 2 Guineas .

    Leave a comment:

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