Legal Help For Leaseholders When Extending a Lease

The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT) deals with disputes between leaseholders and freeholders, which are normally concerning how much the leasehold is to pay for an extension. The can however also be about:

– insuring the building

– how much you have to pay in service charges

– the quality of services provided

– how much you have to pay to buy the freehold of your building.

When involved with leasehold purchase or extension, LVTs can decide whether the amount you have to pay for services is ‘reasonable’. If your building is being managed badly, the LVT can also appoint a manager other than the freeholder – who might lose the right to collect ground rent.

If what your lease says about maintenance, repairs, insurance or service charges is unclear or unfair, the LVT may be able to change this. It’s a good thing to have knowledge of when doing a lease extension.

To apply for this help you can get an application form from the Leasehold Advisory Service or directly from your local LVT. Bear in mind that if you want to appoint a manager for the property, you normally have to give the freeholder a certain amount of written notice before applying.

Once in the process of extending a lease and problems arise, don’t get too anxious. LVTs are a type of legal hearing but are less formal than going to court. Normally they are composed by three members: a solicitor, a valuer and a non-specialist lay person. They are independent and impartial.

Now is the time to gather all the evidence you can. The LVT will make its decision based on the information you and the freeholder provide. After that, relax, you will probably have to wait for several weeks before a written decision comes through the post.

Many people have presented their own case and won, even if the other person had a solicitor. However, for peace of mind, it is usually worth getting professional advice before you start. Get in touch with a solicitor who is an experience leashold extension practitioner.

And last, but not least, application fees vary from £300 to £500. If you win, the LVT may be able to order the freeholder to refund this. If you receive benefits, you may be entitled to a discount, not only this but if the particular issue effects more than one leaseholder you can collectively apply, sharing the costs. If this is relevant to your leasehold extension, seek the services of a specialised lawyer.

A final golden tip: some freeholders try to include their legal costs in future service charges; check your lease to see what it says. You may be able to ask the LVT to prevent them from doing so. Finding all about how to extend leasehold property is not all about frustration, tension and argument and these people are there to help you surmount difficulties.

If you need advice about your leasehold rights, you would be best advised to contact an experienced solicitor to see where you stand.

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