Leasehold - 56 years left - royally screwed by solicitor - just want to cry(69 Posts)
Bought our first and current home 7 years ago. Was told by the solicitor that it was Leasehold with 63 years left but not informed what the implications of this were, just that it could mean we'd have a problem if we wanted to sell in the near future and she would advise that we either extend the lease or purchase the freehold when we can - great. I was young, excited that our offer had been accepted and we'd be moving into our dream home and trusted that the solicitor knew their job.
Fast forward 7 years and 2 DC later and finally my head is out of my arse to start looking into buying the freehold.
I feel sick, have read that it can cost tens of thousands of pounds, extending the lease can be just as costly, and if we just let the lease run out the land reverts back to the leaseholder and we can be forced to then pay them RENT for our own home that would have been fully paid off. So we need to buy it.
I cant stop worrying about this, we are due to go on our first holiday in 7 years this weekend (nothing special, just a few days in the UK with the kids) and finding out this has just completely soured it. I just want to curl up in a ball.
Has anyone else been in this situation or have any advice? I don't even know what the first step is. We are in negative equity (or very close) so no hope of releasing any funds. I just feel like there is no hope
But that's what a leashold is. It's a long-term (one would hope) rental agreement.
I don't have direct experience, but there is hope surely, you've got 56 years to get this money together!
It sounds like you might have been mis-advised by your solicitor, so possibly post this in legal?
Also you're read it can cost tens of thousands - is this just general advice? You need to get specific advice, how much will it cost to buy yours, it may be much cheaper.
I'm sorry you're upset, but I'm not sure you can blame the solicitor. The solicitor said it may cause problems when trying to sell (which is solicitor-speak for 'this house has issues, possibly avoid it'), and you can indeed extend the lease or buy the freehold, so s/he wasn't wrong there either. Perhaps they ought to have found out for you what buying the freehold would've cost you, but equally, you could have done this research yourself. In fact, it's probably the difference between the cost of a similar freehold property and the price you paid for your - leasehold - property. The reason it was cheaper to buy than similar properties (I assume) is because it is a leasehold.
Don't despair. Start to save up now to buy. Alternatively, if your financial situation allows it, could you look into the possibility of extending your mortgage (perhaps once the financial climate improves), as a way of buying out the freehold. Since this would automatically raise the value of your property, your mortgage lender may agree to it. I don't know whether this would be possible, however.
from what Ive read as each year passes it will get even more expensive, something to do with the current value of the house with the short lease, and the potential value the freehold would add to it.
Ive considered just leaving it and hoping something will come up in the next 56 years but what if it just gets dearer and dearer? The house will be the only thing we will have to leave our children and the thought that it wont even belong to us after we've paid off the mortgage is more than heartbreaking
it wasnt cheaper to buy because of the short lease btw, I do feel the solicitor advised me very badly but as its 7 years after the event there isnt much I can do apart from moan about them.
usuallyy a few hundred, not thousands!
Extending terms not horrifically expensive either, honestly.
Unless you're in Chelsea, I wouldn't worry!
that's not my experience, Avril. Don't want to alarm the OP further but the case I know of they are paying around £40k.
I don't really see how the solicitor was at fault, tbh, I think you could have been expected to do some research, after all she warned you that there might be a problem when you came to sell.
I know a few people who have extended their leasehold (it was a condition of the mortgage offer, I thought most mortgage companies insisted on it being at least 100 years long?). It certainly didn't cost anything like tens of thousands. In one case it was only 200 pounds. Find out what the actual costs would be before you start panicking. You have plenty of time to address it.
Definitely not on chelsea. It's a shithole, but its my shithole. Or not
But arabella surely that what the solicitor was paid for?
OK, OP, but from your message it is not clear how the solicitor misadvised you. S/he said it would be difficult to sell (big red flag) and that, if you wanted, you could buy the leasehold and freehold in the future. This was and is true. As I said, the only issue might've been that - had any of you bothered to find out how much the freehold would cost - the solicitor might have suggested that together with the sale-price it was too expensive. Perhaps the solicitor assumed that you had already considered the issues.
I am very surprised that the property wasn't cheaper than its freehold equivalents. I can generally pick out the leaseholds from the freeholds in my area as the price difference between them is dramatic.
But the fact is that we instruct solicitors to act on our behalf. They do not instruct us. Feeling peeved at the solicitor now is wasted energy. Focus on how you can get what you want.
Most mortgage companies won't agree a mortgage on a short-lease property, which is why you might have problems selling if you don't extend the lease (or buy the freehold).
But I thought a law was passed a few years ago which meant that the freehold could not be sold at an unfair/unreasonable amount?
You need to contact the leasholder and find out your options (extend or buy the freehold), then speak to a solicitor.
Don't despair, it is fixable, and may not cost as much as you fear.
I don't see how you've been misadvised here.
I would look into buying the freehold, see here for info
Impossible to guess at what it might cost, it will vary massively depending on the value of your flat (it's a horribly complicated calculation). It will get more expensive as the lease gets shorter though, so don't stick your head in the sand about it. I don't think the solicitor advised you badly, more likely assumed you had a better understanding of the situation than you did.
There's a company that specialises in this, leasehold doctors. We have used them in the past and they were great. Give them a call, iirc they will give you a rough estimate of what an extension or freehold purchase should cost. This will be ultimately be subject to agreement between you and the freeholder and if freeholder is unreasonable then you may have to take/threaten them with a tribunal.
Purchase of freehold would have to be in conjunction with other leaseholders, this makes it more complicated and admin heavy, but is the best option and shouldn't be much more expensive than a lease extension.
A quick google search says
"If your lease is under 70 years, mortgage rates may at best increase. It will be virtually unmortgageable under 60, so you will struggle to remortgage. "
So basically you had 3 years to sort it out, and didn't.
Solicitor didn't screw you, come on you bought a house on a lease, that's clear, that if you did nothing, eventually your house would be worthless. Surely obvious?
The solicitor raised it with you. She doesn't make decisions for you. She gave you a red flag, you decided that it wasn't an important one for you.
This thread has reminded me to email my solicitor about my own leasehold issues!
Nomen - that wasnt a red flag to me to be honest, we had no intention of selling "in the near future" as she said and I said that to her and she just breezily said about the extension or purchase. We were first time buyers, young, naive, trusted that the solicitor would advise us properly. Why didnt she tell us properly what the potential issue could be? Give us some options? Advise us to offer less than they said? make an extension of the lease a condition of the sale?
Honestly there was no difference in prices for freehold properties at the time.
the property will have been cheaper than others of the same size due to the length of lease. you have not lot anything. yet.
you have not been done over but you need to make sure you handle your short lease correctly.
you need legal advice asap.
Do you currently pay groundrent? We lived in a leasehold property and paid somehting like £4 every six months to the leaseholder. The difficulty will come of course when you try and sell the house as no-one else will want the short lease either. I guess the only route is to employ the services of a conveyancing solicitor local to the area who can advise you on the likely costs. You could do this at any time before you sell so I wouldnt worry about it right now as frankly you are not in a financial situation to do anything about it anyway. Enjoy that well deserved holiday, do some research and make a long term plan.
The solicitor's role is to advise you of the legal implications of your purchase, not the commercial ones. The buyer decides whether or not it is a bad bargain. The solicitor makes sure there is good title and no one has any imminent plans to build a motorway through it and so on.
You need to post in legal pronto, but are you sure the term "marriage value" was never mentioned at any point? I don't know the detail, but basically this kicks in around the 80 year mark and potentially makes the lease much more expensive to renew thereafter - so you certainly should have got a better deal when you bought at 63 years, even compared to other leasehold properties, never mind freehold!
thanks for the posts with advice btw. Gives me a starting point
I maintain the solicitor gave me appalling advice, I was paying an expert a lot of money to assist with the house purchase and to raise issues with me. A one sentence "might cause issues if you want to sell in the near future" is not really advice, when I said that we wouldnt want to sell in the near future she should have explained the implications further. But as I say, 7 years after the event there isnt anything I can do about it except whinge.
Anyway, Im waiting on a call back from the company that manages the lease so i can at least find out the next step
In any event, given you bought 7 years ago you'd probably be out of time to bring a negligence claim against the solicitor, even if you had been badly advised.
the property was NOT cheaper.
I only know the term Marriage Value after my recent googling. The two lines in my OP are all the solicitor said about the leasehold. Literally
The Leasehold Reform Act has made huge improvements to your rights as a leaseholder and greatly increased the scope of what can be done to get yourself out of this situation.
Are there several flats in the building or is a conversion with just two or three flats?
What you need to do is appoint a solicitor who specialises in leasehold property (not a standard conveyancing solicitor).
But a) how did you get a mortgage and b) I just have enormous difficulty in believing that this property wasn't cheap when you bought it because of the short lease.
Leasehold doctors will give you an estimate free and over the phone if you call them. The management company may tell you procedure but are unlikely to give you an idea of cost for purchase or extension.
Another good source of information is the Leasehold Advisory Service. They have a helpline 020 7383 9800. IMO they would be better placed to advise you of your next steps than the management company. They should also be able to give you an idea of how much it might cost to either extend the lease or buy the freehold.
Montyy - its a semi detached house.
Mortgage company just gave us a 100% mortgage.
I know people are having difficulty believing it wasnt cheaper because of the lease, but it really wasnt, trust me. otherwise THAt would have been my red flag.
Okay. I have gone through the process of buying the freehold on a leasehold property.
First thing you need to do is contact the leasehold advisory service. Its free and they give excellent advise in my opinion.
You don't say whether you live in a block of flats or a house? This will be important as if it is flats you will need to join with other leaseholders if you want to collectively buy the freehold.
If you can't buy the freehold you have the right to extend the lease. Obviously I don't know your circumstances but only in very few cases would that cost tens of thousands.
Have you got a copy of your lease?
I don't know where you are OP but we used these solicitors to purchase our freehold but we had notorious rip off merchants as our freeholder, was a nightmare. If you need a specialist solicitor you could give them a call...
Jaffe Porter Crossick
the property was NOT cheaper.
then I am afraid you have lost out as you have paid an excessive price at the top of the market.
but you can learn from this.
I now know that faster
If you don't want to buy the freehold - extend the lease.
How expensive it is all depends on who owns the freehold? Who does?
Yes you are probably looking at over 10K.
you really need to see a lawyer - I don't know the size of the problem but it might feel better if you have the facts.
and the free advice service mentioned up thread.
good luck with getting it sorted.
Trouble is, I don't think solicitors are employed to comment on the wisdom of a given transaction. They may comment on its legality, but not its wisdom. She told you what the issues were. If you didn't understand their significance, you could have asked her further about that. If you didn't, she must have assumed (wrongly) that it was because you wanted that house so much, and therefore were prepared to take the risk.
The amount of money you pay them is irrelevant, really. That's how much the law costs, regrettably.
Good luck sorting it out!
Find out who your freeholder is and google them. Its amazing what you can find out.
Solicitor was negligent if she did not spell out in very clear terms, other than referring to potential difficulty at sale, the implications of there being such a short reversionary period. You are also at fault as such a reference should have made you enquire further, euphoria of owning a home aside.
As other posters have said, it's strange that this would have passed a lender without recommendations.
LEASE is good - see their website. We bought our freehold ten years ago and it was straightforward.
But the solicitor pointed out the problem, explained why it was a problem, and advised you what to do! I think a solicitor would (reasonably) assume a slightly higher level of knowledge in a house buyer. And you could always have asked someone, or done some reading. Ok, she didn't go above and beyond her duty, but if the survey found damp or subsidence, or the local search found a massive planning application next door would you expect her to list in graphic detail all the possible hypothetical consequences of that? House buying takes a lot of leg-work.
we can be forced to then pay them RENT for our own home that would have been fully paid off. This really isn't as unfair as it sounds like you feel it is. You would just have paid off a mortgage on a lease on the house, not the house itself. I get that it's an horrible situation if you weren't expecting it, but that's what leasehold is!
From the small amount I can remember about leasehold, once it gets past about 80 ish years, time is off the essence and it will only get more expensive, so it's good you're thinking about it. I seem to remember a few years ago a place costing £240k would have needed 15k to buy the leashold, but I'm sure it's v complex and variable.
We extended our lease from 72 to 99 years because we couldn't afford the statutory 90 year extension in 2011. Including all fees it cost us about £6k and increased our ground rent to £200 a year. When we are in a better financial position we will do the 90 year extension and get a peppercorn ground rent
Really sorry to hear about your predicament. There are two things you can do: 1) agree with your landlord to extend the Lease (it is a possibility) or 2) try to buy the freehold.
DH and I did 2) on our flat in London (saves having to pay both for the lease extension and the freehold) it cost us £10K
When you buy a lease, you're buying the right to occupy the property for x no of years. You do not own the structure of the property or the ground it is built upon and you're confined by the terms of the lease.
I manage freehold block of flats for a living and it is astonishing the lack of knowledge of people who purchase flats - and property programmes on tv really don't help. As a leaseholder you have loads of rights but most people don't know enough to exercise them. It's not the solicitor's job to make sure you understand what you're buying, but there is certainly a lack of education and I don't know who should be responsible.
Op, speak to the leasehold advisory service, as advised above. They will be able to point you in the right direction, and also have fact sheets about lease extension.
just spoken to the person who represents the 'landlord'
She estimates it will cost about £1500 - £2000 in total, even with the short lease, providing I use a decent solicitor who specialises in this area. She asked who it was I used to buy initially, when I told her and said that I thought they advised me badly/not at all she said she knew of them and off the record that she "wouldnt touch them with a bargepole".
Am going to speak to the Leasehold advisory service aswell, but things certainly look a bit better than they did before <understatement>. Im also going to speak to the mortgage company to see if they would be willing to loan us some additional money given that it will add some, albeit small, value to the house. Might even be able to do a bit of decorating and finally finish off a few rooms in the house.
Thanks again for the advice . Am a bit calmer now.
Oh good news - that could have been a lot worse!
That's great news hope it doesn't take too long to sort out
I cried on the phone, she was lovely about it
Good news. £2k is a lot easier to do than tens of thousands!
That's fantastic news, you may have fallen on your feet there!
hi toys, I hate to stress you out but I work for a valuation surveyor and with a lease as short as yours, there is no way it will only be £1,500 - £2,000 to extend it.
You seriously need to speak to a professional chartered surveyor who can recommend a solicitor who specialises in this. Trust me, there are so many obstacles and you certainly do not want to be ill-advised with such a short lease.
You can either do it outside the provisions of the Leasehold Reform Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 - this is usually done by agreement directly with the freeholder but can often mean that you don't get as good a deal (new lease not as long and ground rent higher etc) as you would if you did it 'under the Act' where the statute dictates what you are entitled to BUT you have to pay your freeholder's legal and surveyor costs as well as your own - which the fees themselves would amount to probably around £2,000!
Also, it will usually not cost you much more to buy the freehold but you need 50% of the occupants of your building to do it with you. It is seriously worth considering in your case.
Please get professional advice - your freeholder will try to get as much out of you as they can! And please don't let the lease get shorter and shorter - the amount you will pay increases at an increasing rate due to the calculation method that is used - as house prices go up and your lease shortens.
What area of the country are you in? We are in the NW where houses come with 999 year leases which from previous mumsnet threads seems to be thought of as unusual in other areas where leases are only on flats.
Mil had a huge house in an affluent suburb of south Manchester. 10 years ago she was exactly in your situation, they'd been in the house 20 years and when they came to sell found it only had 30 years left on a 99 yr lease, which made the house practically unsaleable. I think they bought the freehold for about £2k and sold the house for £450k.
On purchase their solicitor didn't even mention the short lease so you can imagine their shock when it showed up on a potential buyers searches.
Similar happened to me on my first flat. It had I think about 77 years on it. Solicitor said I could extend the lease on it for a few hundred. I didn't realise the significance and that the fee could increase. Fast forward 6 years and a 71 year lease. By that point the fee to extend was about £19k. I would have extended at the outset if she had explained that the fee would increase so substantially. Sounds like you've been lucky.
MSE cna be a useful source of information and personal experiences in much the same way as Mumsnet.
You may like to take a look at www.lease-advice.org/ as well as this is the 'go to site' for help and advice whether you want to extend your lease or buy the freehold
Reading this thread makes me breathe a massive sigh of relief. I bought my first flat thinking it had 91yrs left on the lease (that's what it said in the estate agent details.) All fine until I had to rush to the conveyancer's office at a moment's notice to sign contracts with the threat that it would all fall through if I didn't sign that day. Finally presented with the paperwork, I found out that the lease was "79yrs"! I remembered being concerned but the conveyancer assured me that it was fine and didn't even mention that it could be a problem or that I should look to renew as soon as I could. So under pressure I signed and promptly forgot about it.
Thankfully, I sold three years later without any problem. I did get a query about whether I'd looked into renewing the lease but that was it.
It's only now that I realise what a lucky escape I had.
£1500-2000 sounds very low. Get something in writing quickly. Remember you also have to psy all yhe f/holder's costs plus your own solicitor and Land Registry fees. I don't want yo alarm you but even if that is the correct price, there will be other expenses on top.
We had to renew ours on our last proporty before we could sell it.
As lalalong said you will have to pay the f/holders fees & we had to pay for a valuation for the free holder and we also had a valuation of our own done and then agreed a price inbetween the two.
It's not a person who owns the freehold so its just a nominal fee to buy it. 1.5 - 2k is the estimate all in. She said its a very easy process as long as I use a decent firm ie. Not the one we used to buy the house! In her experience it only gets more expensive if my solicitor doesn't know their stuff, she's also sent me a list of solicitors she's had recent dealings with who were good.
She was really surprised when I told her I heard they can cost thousands.
As the bank gave you a 100% mortgage it's unlikely you over paid for the house. I am however surprised they lent you all the money with such a short lease.
We sold a flat with 80 something years left on the lease and were told by EAs that a couple of years less left on it would make it almost imposible to sell as banks wouldn't mortgage it.
I would say that sounds an incredibly reasonable price for the freehold. I would sort it out promptly if I were you. Very rare to have a leasehold house so convert it to freehold whilst you have the opportunity.
Its not a person that owns the freehold....it may well be a company that owns it toys, but there will be a person that owns the company, who will want a certain price for extension/freehold.
I will bowlers, going to try and enjoy my little holiday and get on it as soon as were back. Have left a scathing review about our first solicitor which has made me feel a bit better aswell, hopefully save some other poor sods from using them.
Toys this might make you feel better. We bought a leasehold house in the past. To be fair we did buy it very cheaply because it was leasehold and knew there was money to be made on it. I couldn't remember how much we paid for the freehold (which was owned by 'the church'-i assume CofE) and just asked DH-he said £200,000 . It was in a rising market but still!
It will cost several £1000 and asa its under 80 years there will be the marriage value to consider which is the difference between its value before and after the extension. You need to tackle this head on don't wait!
Why are people still going on about blocks of flats when the op has stated that its a semi detached house, on which the lease is probably only for the land the house is built on.
That's what we pay for in my area. I have a 999 year lease (with 840 years left to run ) for the land ONLY. I pay 37p a year ground rent to the leaseholder. My previous 3 houses in different parts of this county have all been on the same basis. Buy the house, rent the piece of land its on, on a 999 year lease.
We own the building. Just not the very small bit of land (terraced house) it is built on.
Hence Mil was able to extend her lease for a very long period of time, for a payment of about £2k, because the lease is only for the land, and on top of the £2k, the leaseholder collects a couple of hundred pounds a year ground rent on that particular property.
Flibberty - YES! Its just the land we are leasing, ground rent is £15 per year so not a huge amount. Its a housing association (house is ex council) that own the lease so maybe thats why it would be so cheap compared to others??
Purely out of decency, a more vigilant/thoughtful solicitor might have thought to spell out the lease issue more clearly, but I doubt they were negligent, even if you didn't pay less. There's nothing wrong with buying a short lease, it is just that as a buyer, you'd negotiate to what you felt was a fair price. A solicitor has no expertise on that - value is a slippery pig even for estate agents and valuers!
The only person in the process looking at value (and on the bank's behalf, not yours) would have been the mortgage valuer, who would have taken the lease into account.
The reality is that this is seven years ago which completely skews the financial picture. In my part of London, property has gone up 50% since then, wiping the lease impact in financial terms, whereas in others it has dropped.
By all means post on legal, but I would get on with finding out what the costs of extending or freehold are, and looking at ways you might be able to meet them. Leaving it any longer is a really bad idea. It is completely galling but you may need to take the view that you just have to make the best of this.
Did read the last messages. You are sorted!
get everything in writing. it sounds very cheap for leasehold extension but might be specific circumstances.
Thetoys - that's why leases are so cheap to extend when its just the land. Because the owner of the land will still get his £15 a year PLUS a bonus £1.5 - £2k from you wanting to extend it.
I am sure that if ever there was a case where a lease ran out and a landowner said 'I want to plant potatoes on this land now, get out of the house i'm going to demolish it', then it would make the national press.
My parents live in Bolton, a vast area on one side of town - with thousands of terraced houses on it, are on long leases from a lady something-or-other. Mums is on a 999 year lease, but the owner is getting a ground rent every year from thousands and thousands of homeowners. Its totally different from a lease on a block of flats where the leasehold actually refers to part of the bricks and mortar that make up your home.
I have no idea if it is solicitors or estate agents or whoever on this thread. And from your pov,or reality, that the solicitor was not negligent.
But. I do think that a lot of professional people wrongly believe or assume that the person sitting in front of them knows a little of what they are getting into.
But sometimes they dont. And sometimes the client may well nod because they only partly understand but dont want to say that.
op, were you given any written information about it to read up afterwards?
note, I am just "an ordinary person in the street".
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