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Extension of Residential Lease Agreement
Most residential accommodation is purchased on a freehold basis; however, some properties are purchased on a long-term leasehold basis, for example, flats and apartments. This means that whilst you may be the registered legal owner of the property for a certain number of years, if the lease ever ran out, the property would revert back to the freehold owner.
In circumstances such as these, the owners of the leasehold agreement may have a statutory right to request an extension to the term of their lease.
JMW’s real estate litigation team has a proven track record of acting on behalf of both landlords and tenants when a request for an extension of a leasehold agreement is made.
How JMW Can Help
Our experienced residential property litigation solicitors advise landlords and tenants on all aspects of obtaining a lease extension, including:
- Checking a tenant’s eligibility to apply for a residential lease extension
- Preparing information required for the lease extension
- Assisting with the assessment of the premium for extending the lease
- Advising if a lease extension is disputed
We will ensure that the lease extension process runs smoothly and efficiently for you.
Benefits of Extending a Residential Lease
Before proceeding with a lease extension, it is worth considering what benefits this may have for you.
If you are looking to sell a leasehold property, depending upon the number of years remaining in the leasehold interest, this may have a negative impact on the market value of the property. A property that has a longer leasehold term has a higher market value than an identical property subject to a shorter residual leasehold term.
For those not looking to sell their long-term leasehold but considering a mortgage or remortgage, the number of years remaining may impact the likelihood of receiving a mortgage offer. Banks are much less likely to loan against property under a lease with a remaining term of 60 years, compared to a remaining term of 99 years.
Tenants who obtain a lease extension under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 will only have to pay a “peppercorn rent”, which will mean paying no ground rent at all. If you extend your lease by negotiation, you may still have to pay ground rent depending on what is agreed.
Lease extension can be a difficult process and it is recommended to seek professional legal help from a solicitor with experience in this area.
Am I Eligible to Extend My Lease?
Eligibility is determined by reference to a number of strict legal requirements that differ depending upon the type of property in question.
Flats and Apartments
A qualifying tenant of a flat may extend their lease if they have been the legal owner of the lease for a period of at least two years and the initial period granted under the lease was above 21 years. Such tenants are eligible for a lease extension of up to 90 years.
A similar eligibility criterion applies for houses, provided that there is a right to purchase the freehold. However, unlike leasehold extensions for flats, the maximum for a new lease for houses is 50 years.
In each case, JMW’s team of experienced property litigation experts can assist with identifying whether you qualify for a lease extension. Should it transpire that your lease does not qualify, we shall not charge you for our time.
How long does the extension process take?
Provided there is no opposition to the request for a lease extension, we estimate that the entire process can be completed within six to eight months from our initial instruction.
How much does a lease extension cost?
Provided the landlord does not oppose the lease extension on the grounds of redevelopment, the tenant is required to make payment of a premium to the landlord in return for the new lease. The amount of this premium is obtained by reference to a surveyor’s report following an inspection of the property. Amongst other variables, the amount of this premium will depend upon the type of property, the surrounding area and the period remaining under the current lease.
Whilst the cost amount may vary in instances where extensive negotiations are required to agree on the premium, JMW operates on a fixed-fee basis for its lease extension work. This ensures that you are aware of the costs of each step and understand how much the entire process will cost at the very outset.
Once a lease extension has been agreed, the matter can be passed to our internal conveyancing team who can assist with finalising the new lease and its registration at the Land Registry.
I am a landlord, what can I do when faced with a request for an extended lease?
Whilst eligible tenants are entitled to a new lease upon payment of a premium, there are a number of options available to a landlord.
The first of these is to oppose the request on the grounds that you intend to redevelop the property upon the expiry of the original lease.
Alternatively, you may oppose the proposed premium with a view to negotiating a higher premium from the tenant.