How long is the lease?
With leasehold you’re effectively buying the right to live in that property for a set amount of time, which can be any amount up to 999 years. As time moves on and the lease changes hands, this value reduces, so it’s vital you know how long is left on the lease and a solicitor will check this for you. Mortgage lenders tend to insist that properties have at least 70 years left on their lease, so if you buy one with less than 80 years of lease remaining, you may struggle to sell in five to ten years’ time. An extension can cost several thousand pounds and take many weeks to deal with, so, if the lease is running out, you should try to push to have it extended before you buy.
How much is the service charge and ground rent?
You need to know how much ground rent and service charge you’ll pay to live in the property and who is responsible for general repairs of any communal areas, so you can budget accordingly. What exactly do the services charges cover and how often are these costs reviewed? This is a regular cost you’ll have to pay when you move in, so you don’t want it to catch you out later.
What alterations can you make?
Are you free to make any alterations you like to your property, or are there restrictions and, if so, what are the restrictions? These can range from the obvious (you can’t remove internal walls) to more subtle ones, such as making sure you keep the same style and colour of front door. If you have any big plans for altering the property, check with your solicitor whether the lease allows those changes. You may need to get written consent from the landlord before carrying out any works.
Who is responsible for major repairs?
Your service charges should include costs for general maintenance, but might not include costs for potentially major repairs, such as if the roof of your block of flats needs extensive work. If a large repair is needed, you should be aware of who will be responsible and how the costs will be shared? This is important, as it may be something you need to budget for in the future.
What restrictions are there on the property?
You’re finally going to have the freedom of your own home, but are you allowed to have pets? In some flats you’re not allowed to own a dog and in others you’re not allowed to play music after a certain time of night. Estate agents are unlikely to know all the restrictions that affect a property, so you should ask your solicitor whether there are restrictions that will stop you from doing anything that matters to you.
Will you deal with a management company or a Landlord?
In a similar way to when you rent, the landlord owns the property and a separate company often manages it for them. You’ll be dealing with these people regularly, paying service charges to them and asking them to fix any issues that arise, so it’s important you know who you’ll be dealing with. Whether it’s a professional management company, or an individual you’ll deal with, you need to know.
What other costs are involved?
Other costs can arise that can’t be predicted at the start of a transaction. For example, management companies can make extra charges for changing their records when a new person joins or leaves a property, and for administration fees to provide information you’ll need in order to get a mortgage. This can add a couple of hundred pounds on to the cost of moving, so it’s worth budgeting for.
If you are considering buying a flat or an apartment and have any questions regarding anything in this article, would like to discuss viewing a property or getting a valuation on a property, or just want an bit of a chat, get in contact with us by calling us on 0151 329 3639.