I am proceeding under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 and have agreed the terms of the lease extension, but have not completed. What can I do?
In circumstances where the freeholder has refused to complete or is unwilling to do so for a number of reasons, it may become necessary to make an application under the County Court. This needs to be done within a certain time frame with terms being agreed or there is a significant risk that the claim will be lost.
You should take specialist advice on this, but in general terms the relevant time frame is 4 months from the date on which all of the terms where agreed.
If you are proceeding in a voluntary transaction (where no notices have been served) then there is no obligation for the landlord to cooperate with you, unless you have exchanged a contract or have some other enforceable mechanism to ensure that the lease is granted. For further guidance on this, expert help will be required.
If you have served a Notice and not received a Counter Notice in response by the due date, then the landlord is deemed to have admitted the premium that you proposed to pay in your Notice.
You should seek expert assistance, but can probably enforce the grant of the new lease at this level.
It may become necessary to apply to court in order to do this, and as there are certain time limits for doing so it would make sense to seek specialist help on this sooner rather than later.
You will also need to be able to demonstrate to the court that the Notice was in fact ‘served’ – i.e. proof of service will be required.
In order to qualify for a lease extension you need to own a ‘long lease’ of a flat. A ‘long lease’ is a lease that is granted for more than 21 years originally (regardless of how long the lease is now). You need to have been the registered owner of the property at the Land Registry for at least 2 years.
Subject to these conditions, you can bring a claim to an extended lease. There are no restrictions on who may bring a claim and therefore a company or an individual or a trust can claim an extended lease, subject to 2 years’ ownership and the property being a long lease flat as stated above.
The short answer is ‘No.’ It is not essential to use the 1993 Act to extend your lease. It is possible to agree a lease extension by negotiation with the freeholder, however there are many factors to consider when looking at the Formal vs. Informal procedures.