Why Do I Need a Solicitor to Extend My Lease?

By Lucy Riley

Head of Leasehold Enfranchisement

Leases are complex documents; drafted badly they can delay and even prevent a sale or remortgage of a flat. Here are some of the issues that an expert solicitor will help you avoid:

Ground Rent Headache

Some landlords offer ‘voluntary’ leases. These will be on a take it or leave it basis. Instead of the usual peppercorn ground rent they are likely to include ground rents that increase over the lifetime of the lease.

There are some levels of ground rent that can turn a long lease into an assured shorthold tenancy and make it difficult to obtain a mortgage.

Pesky Pets and Noisy Neighbours

Many buildings which have been converted into flats have very poor soundproofing and wooden floors and pets can cause real headaches for flat owners. Often landlords will include clauses which prohibit pets and hardwood floors.

Grand Designs?

Leases will usually include clauses which prevent the flat owner from making changes to the flat without the landlord’s consent. Sneaky landlords might include a clause that prevents the flat owner from making any changes to the flat even minor ones.

Time to Move On

Most leases will contain some restrictions on selling or subletting the flat to avoid things like Airbnb and multiple occupancy, but what if those clauses are so restrictive it means you can’t sublet the flat at all? These clauses are often drafted in legalese and it may be tricky to spot them and understand their full effect.

Land Registry Rules OK?

If the lease is not properly registered at the Land Registry you will not be able to sell or remortgage your flat.

The Land Registry is extremely vigilant when it comes to preventing fraud. All applications are stringently checked and rejected very quickly if they do not comply even in some very small way.

If you have a mortgage on your flat, you will not be able to register an extended lease without your lender’s consent and they are unlikely to grant this if you do not seek legal advice.