Viewing Lease before buying

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    Viewing Lease before buying

    Good afternoon,

    Firstly, thank you for all the information that has been shared on this website. It has been of great help.

    I'm looking at several flats for my first property purchase and I have asked the estate agencies to please send me the lease.

    I'd like to read through them, as there are several key aspects that I need to understand before going ahead with a purchase, such as:
    • How many years has the leasehold got before expiry? (I know this can be found on the Title Register in landregistry.gov.uk)
    • What is the stipulated ground rent?
    • Is the ground rent set to increase every certain amount of time? If so, how much by?
    • Can the property be rented out by the lessee?
    • What is the agreement for repairs and maintenance of any common installations?
    • Any additional covenants?
    However, I'm finding that most estate agencies are unwilling to share the lease. They claim that it will be sent to the solicitor once an offer has been placed and accepted.

    Is this the norm? Will I have to place an offer based on what I know and then pay a solicitor to go through the nitty gritty of the lease?

    I'm worried that once the lease has been shared and reviewed by both the solicitor and me, if there's something that I dislike, I would have to pay the solicitor for their service and end up back at square one. Hence why I want to do the initial checks on the lease myself.

    Can someone share their experience?

    Many thanks,

    #2
    Just tell the estate agent , you cannot make any valuation on the property without the information.

    Comment


      #3
      It is normal practice for an offer to be made subject to contract and then all the paperwork is sent to your solicitor. As you state, you can consider documents at the HMLR if you wish. The basic information such as term of the lease, current ground rent and service charges should be contained within the estate agent's particulars. You are also entitled to know whether or not you are entitled to let the property before making an offer.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you both for your answers.

        Gordon999 I already have, unfortunately this makes no difference. They claim the lease will only be sent to a solicitor.

        eagle2 I have learnt this the hard way. On previous occasions, my approach has been to ask the aforementioned questions to the estate agent for them to take away, investigate and provide an answer. Since their response time is far from swift, what happens is that someone else ends up placing an offer and the property is removed from the market.

        As you've mentioned, I guess I'll have to make an offer subject to contract and if the conditions aren't right, assume that whatever money has been spent on a solicitor will be lost.

        Comment


          #5
          You can also say that you will be completing the conveyancing work yourself, so all the documents should be sent directly to you. You may then change your mind and appoint a solicitor if you decide to proceed.

          Comment


            #6
            If the estate agent doesn't know how long the lease has to run how did they value the property?

            Comment


              #7
              eagle2 I will try that. As far as I know, an offer needs to be accepted in order to proceed to the conveyancing work? Do you know if this is correct?

              Neelix that is the only piece of information they are (usually) able to provide on the spot. However, the other questions are key for me to decide if I want to purchase or not.

              Comment


                #8
                You are right to be diligent about the lease. Too many people buy without knowing what their obligations will be. Very clever idea of eagle. Don't see any problems with it.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by jp13abk View Post
                  Thank you both for your answers.

                  Gordon999 I already have, unfortunately this makes no difference. They claim the lease will only be sent to a solicitor.

                  eagle2 I have learnt this the hard way. On previous occasions, my approach has been to ask the aforementioned questions to the estate agent for them to take away, investigate and provide an answer. Since their response time is far from swift, what happens is that someone else ends up placing an offer and the property is removed from the market.

                  As you've mentioned, I guess I'll have to make an offer subject to contract and if the conditions aren't right, assume that whatever money has been spent on a solicitor will be lost.
                  Make a written complaint to CMA ( Competition and Markets Authority ) about this particular estate agent not willing to disclose the details of the lease to prospective buyers which leads to overvaluation of the property before making an offer.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    scot22 I couldn’t agree more with you. The more I learn, the more I realise how many people buy in absolute ignorance. The problem is that these people tend to snap the properties off the market before you can do appropriate due diligence.

                    Gordon999 thanks for the suggestion. I will ring the estate agent and tell them I will make a complaint to the CMA unless they decide to share the lease. Hopefully they’ll change their mind.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The estate agent should always have the basic information: years remaining on the lease, ground rent, service charge. However it is quite common that they do not have the lease document itself.

                      Nowadays, many conveyancing solicitors operate on a no-completion-no-fee basis. You can use a solicitor of this kind, just in case you need to pull out. You are free to change your mind before exchanging contracts.

                      Assuming the terms on the lease are reasonable, you negotiate a price with the seller and get your offer accepted. Then the solicitors begin to do their work.

                      Don't order any searches as these fees are usually non-refundable, just instruct your solicitor to ask for the lease, review the lease and also forward the lease to you.

                      If your solicitor or yourself found any terms on the lease unacceptable, you can either ask the seller to arrange a deed of variation with the freeholder, or you just pull out. You will not incur any charges as the solicitor operates on a no-completion-no-fee basis.

                      When I was looking to buy my first property, I actually pulled out once. It's not because of the terms on the lease, but because a much more attractive property appears on the market while the conveyancing process goes on. Apparently my solicitor wasn't massively impressed, but that's the reality they have to deal with and they are prepared for that.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by jp13abk View Post
                        eagle2 I will try that. As far as I know, an offer needs to be accepted in order to proceed to the conveyancing work? Do you know if this is correct?
                        Usually, the vendor will need to agree to sell subject to contract before the solicitor releases the various documents. Either party is still able to withdraw from the sale or negotiate a different price prior to contracts being exchanged,

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The lease can be downloaded from the land registry e professional website at a cost of £3 per lease

                          if you want send me a pm and I will do it for you

                          Comment


                            #14
                            In the days when we had home information packs a copy of the lease would have had to be available to produce to a potential buyer.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                              In the days when we had home information packs a copy of the lease would have had to be available to produce to a potential buyer.
                              I think that they included the searches as well didn't they but the Government decided in its wisdom that they were "expensive and unnecessary", they "increased the cost and hassle of selling homes" and they were "stifling the housing market" so it decided to "bring down the cost of selling a home and remove unnecessary legislation"

                              Comment

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