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Should I Buy a Property With a Short Lease?

Searching for a property to purchase is an exciting time.

However, if you are buying a leasehold property it’s important to check the lease terms and in particular, the term.


What is a leasehold property?


There are two different ways of owning property in England and Wales. Freehold or leasehold.

Freehold means that you own the land and the building that sits on it.

Leasehold means that you own a lease, which is a contract that gives you the right to live in the property for a set number of years (for example, 99, 125 or 999 years).

The lease will set out the detailed terms on which you are entitled to live in the property, including your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder.

Whilst most flats are/should be leasehold, houses can also be leasehold.


What is considered a short lease property?


A short lease property is usually that with a lease of 80 years or less. The shorter the lease of the property, the less it becomes worth.


What risks are associated with purchasing a short lease property?


If you are considering purchasing a short lease property, it is important to understand the risks associated with this, such as:

  • It is difficult to secure a mortgage: It is much more difficult to secure a mortgage for a property with a short lease. Mortgages are likely to only be available through specialist lenders who will charge a higher rate of interest.

  • It affects the value of your property: Properties with short leases will decrease in value. When you come to sell your property you may not have any equity in the property if the value has decreased that dramatically.

  • Difficulty when it comes to selling: If you purchase a short lease property and don’t extend the lease before selling, it will be even harder for potential buyers to secure a mortgage for your property.

  • Increased costs in extending the lease: some leases give you a statutory right to extend the lease but when the lease term falls below 80 years the cost of doing so is significantly higher.


Benefits of purchasing a short lease property


Properties with short leases can often appeal to individuals who are retired, without dependents to leave assets to when they pass away.

Such properties can also attract cash buyers/buy-to-let investors who seek make their investment back by renting out the property to tenants as generally the price is lower.

 

Extending the lease on a short lease property


After living in the property for at least two years, the leaseholder has the right to extend their lease by a further 90 years.

When purchasing a short lease property, the prospect of waiting a further two years to extend your lease isn’t appealing, especially if by waiting the two years will result in the term falling below 80 years. In this instance, you can request that the previous owner to serve statutory notice to extend the lease as a condition of the purchase. This will then be assigned to you once your purchase is complete. Unless the seller agrees to meet these costs however, you will then have to pay the premium and any costs associated with the process which may be unknown at the point of exchange.

It’s always preferable for the seller to extend the lease prior to sale so you know exactly what you are getting and the costs associated with the purchase.


How we can help


Whether you are looking to buy, sell or re-mortgage your home, we have a friendly, dedicated and specialist property team that can assist you wherever you are based.

Our team appreciate that the process of purchasing a property can be stressful, we will take the time to understand your needs and provide you with expert legal advice.


Location 


Our Solicitors are able to provide expert advice across the country with a network of offices based in: Chesterfield, Nottingham, Mansfield and Derby.


How to get in contact 


Our team are on hand to help you and can assist wherever you are based. Please call us for a no-obligation, initial discussion on 0330 333 2613 or email enquiries@elliotmather.co.uk and we will call or email you back.

staffMember

Andrew Yates

LLP Member and Head of Department

Andrew joined Elliot Mather LLP in 2000 as a Legal Executive and subsequently qualified as a Solicitor.  He has been an LLP Member since 2008 and is now head of the Residential Property Department.  

His vision, experience, knowledge and IT skills have been key to the development of the Residential Property Departments across the practice over the last 15 years.   Andrew has a wealth of experience of all types of property transactions and specialises in:-

  • Residential sales and services and purchases.
  • Rights to buy
  • Transfer of equity
  • Re-mortgage/bank security
  • Equity release
  • Deed of Easements
  • New Builds
  • Complex Legal Charges
  • Declaration of Trust
  • Property Developments
  • Complex Property Transactions.

Andrew has a friendly, no nonsense approach to work which is appreciated by clients, Estate Agents, Developers and his staff alike.

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