Buying a flat
This podcast is a conversation with Roger Hardwick, a solicitor and partner at Brethertons. Roger’s sole focus is residential leasehold...
There is no hard and fast rule about the minimum length a lease should be when it is sold. However, a number of buyers will be discouraged from buying a lease that is nearing or less than 80 years in length.
When the length of a lease falls below 80 years, the cost of a lease extension increases dramatically. As a result, a lease at 80 years or less can often be harder to sell.
Mortgage lenders generally will not lend on properties where the lease is so low that it expires before the end of the mortgage. For example, lenders would probably not provide a 25-year mortgage to buy a property that has just 20 years left on the lease.
Ultimately, whether a lease is too short will depend upon your personal circumstances and whether or not you wish to sell the property.
Deciding whether or not to extend your lease can be a complex decision to make.
Here are a couple of examples of how other leaseholders handled this situation:
Belinda Jones was looking to sell her flat to move in with her daughter.
Her lease had 60 years to run. She finally found a buyer who was interested in the property but they were reluctant to proceed with the lease at 60 years.
She did not have the finances to extend her lease before she sold and was worried that she would never be able to sell the flat.
LEASE advised Belinda to consider starting the legal process for extending the lease with a view to transferring it to her buyer. This way all Belinda needed to do is trigger the first stages in the legal process for a lease extension and the buyer can take over from there once the property is sold.
The benefit of this is that the buyer will pay the premium for a lease extension but will not have to wait 2 years to qualify themselves in order to trigger the legal route.
Belinda’s estate agents helped her to negotiate a reduction in the sale price to reflect the shorter lease.
For other leaseholders the length of the lease has been more important.
Claire Smith was looking at a flat with 50 years remaining on the lease.
She was not planning to stay in the area for more than five years, so the ability to resell was very important to her.
Claire checked the cost of a lease extension on the LEASE calculator, available here: https://www.lease-advice.org/calculator/
The estimated price was much higher than she was prepared to pay. She was able to make an informed decision to not buy the flat.