A GUIDE TO HOUSING SOLUTIONS POLICY ON EXTENDING YOUR LEASE

This guide is designed to assist you as a leaseholder or shared owner to understand which procedure to use if you want to extend your lease. If you own 100% of your home you can use either the statutory or voluntary process, if however, you are a shared owner you would use the voluntary process. 

The Government have provided some helpful guides around 'How to Lease' Please click on this link for more information

Shared Ownership Houses

If you own a shared ownership house, you cannot apply to extend your lease. You could, however, staircase to 100%, and acquire the freehold of the property and would then own the property outright and your lease would no longer exist.

How do I qualify for the statutory (legal) right to extend my lease?

100% leasehold owners of residential flats can buy an extension to their lease from us, subject to certain conditions being met.   As a qualifying flat owner, you are entitled to purchase a new lease for an extra 90 years on top of the remaining term of your existing lease and to have any ground rent which you pay under your existing lease reduced to a peppercorn. This means that effectively your Lease would be ground rent free.

The main qualifying conditions are that:

  • the original term of the lease exceeded 21 years.
  • you have owned the property for at least 2 years.
  • if you were a shared owner you have staircased (bought additional shares) so that you now own 100%.

THE STATUTORY PROCESS INSIDE OF THE TERMS OF THE LEASEHOLD REFORM & URBAN DEVELOPMENT ACT 1993 (“the Act”)

The process is complicated and legally demanding.   If you are considering this route you should take independent legal advice and you should appoint a solicitor to approve the lease, to advise you upon the terms and complete the legal work for you.   The time frame of the procedure inside of the terms of  the Act is laid down by the Act and is quite lengthy

What is the procedure?

Lease extension through this statutory procedure starts when your solicitor serves a formal notice under the Act on Housing Solutions.  The Notice must include the amount you are offering to pay us for the extension and any different terms you would like to include in the new lease. As there is limited ability to vary the terms of your lease, we advise that you obtain independent advice before serving the Notice.

When you serve a Notice, you start a timetable which gives us at least two months to respond to you by serving a Counter Notice. We will engage a valuer to assess your proposals. If we disagree with your proposals for the lease extension, the terms for the premium and lease terms will be set out in that counter notice.   We would then try to resolve any disagreement by negotiation.  Once terms are agreed, a new lease is entered into.

What if we can’t agree on the amount to pay or different lease terms?

Should we be unable to agree, the statutory rules allow the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber - Residential Property) to decide on the price you pay and the terms of the new lease. .

What will it cost to buy a lease extension ?

You will have to pay us a premium to extend your lease.  This is calculated in accordance with rules set out in the Act.   You will need to obtain valuation advice from a RICS valuer who specialises in lease extension work to assist you in working out the premium.  Alternatively, the Government sponsored website at www.lease-advice.org contains a very good plain English guide to how the lease extension process works under the terms of the Act.  There is also a calculator on this site you can use to obtain a rough idea of what the premium is likely to be.

In addition to this you will have to pay  

  • your legal and valuation costs
  • our reasonable legal and valuation costs

You will need to pay these costs even if you commence the procedure and decide not to carry on.

Where can I get advice from ?

It is very important to obtain independent advice before commencing an application to extend your lease.  You can obtain free and independent advice on the legal procedure from:

Leasehold Advisory Service
31 Worship Street
London
EC2A 2DX

Tel:     020 7374 5380
Email:  info@lease-advice.org
Website: www.lease-advice.org

They will not, however, deal with the purchase of the lease extension on your behalf.

THE VOLUNTARY PROCESS (OUTSIDE OF THE TERMS OF THE ACT)

Flat owners who have not staircased to 100%, i.e. are still shared owners, are not eligible to extend their lease through the statutory process as they do not meet the qualifying conditions.  However, we appreciate that such leases are reducing in term and may be becoming more difficult to remortgage or sell.  Housing Solutions therefore now have a voluntary process to allow such flat owners to apply to us to extend their lease. 

In order to provide as much clarity as possible to the voluntary process, we have negotiated fixed legal and valuation fees for lease extensions undertaken outside of the terms of the Act.   These are as follows:

Valuation fee (payable in advance)

From £495 + VAT

Legal & administration fee (payable on completion)

£1,000 + VAT + disbursements

Nominal legal fee towards the cost of rewriting the shared ownership lease (for shared owners only) (payable on completion)

£100 + VAT

Therefore, the only variable cost using the voluntary process is the premium payable for the lease extension.   This premium is determined by an independent specialist Chartered Surveyor using standard calculation methods.

Subject to the agreement of the premium and an undertaking to pay the fixed legal and administration costs, in principle Housing Solutions would be willing to extend the lease of your property under the voluntary process on the same terms as those you would be entitled to under the 1993 Act.  This means the grant of a new lease for a term of 90 years on top of the remaining term of your existing lease, for your share of the property.  Whilst the Ground Rent provisions within your lease will be reduced to a peppercorn, for shared owners the provisions relating to payment of specified rent (the rent paid on the share owned by Housing Solutions) will continue.

We would advise you to take independent legal advice as to the level of premium to be paid for the lease extension and the terms to be included in the new lease.  We would also advise you to visit the Leasehold Advisory Service website (www.lease-advice.org)  for an explanation of how the lease extension process works when conducted inside of the terms of the Act.

Procedure

We attach a questionnaire setting out the information you need to return to us.  Once we have received the completed questionnaire and the payment of the valuation fee of £495 + VAT, we will instruct the independent RICS qualified valuer.  The valuer will be instructed on behalf of Housing Solutions to advise upon the premium for a lease extension.  A copy of the report will be supplied on request.

Once we receive the valuer’s report, we will write to you setting out the terms on which Housing Solutions will offer to extend your lease.  If you agree to the terms, you will need a solicitor to complete the legal work for you.

The valuation fee is non refundable should you decide not to go ahead with the lease extension. 

Once the premium is agreed, we will instruct our solicitors to draw up a draft lease and you will have to pay a fixed cost of £1,000 plus VAT and disbursements on completion of the transaction.   In addition, for shared owners only, there will be a nominal fee of £100 towards to cost of rewriting the shared ownership lease. Again, should you decide not to proceed you will still be liable for our solicitor’s fees.

HOW TO PROCEED FROM HERE

If you wish to proceed with an application to extend your shared ownership lease using the voluntary process, please complete and return the form that can be found here

If you wish to proceed with an application to extend your lease using the statutory process, please ask your solicitor to serve a Section 42(3) Notice to:

Home Ownership Team, Crown Square, Waldeck Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 8BY Enquiries :01628 543 101