The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today (6th March 2017) published its guide for consumers on leasehold property, specifically outlining the fees and charges that may be payable to a Lease Administrator.
The document entitled, ‘Leaseholder Guide to Lease Administration Fees’, has been published for those consumers who already own, are looking to purchase, or are selling a leasehold property, and is designed to outline some of the responsibilities that come with such properties and the types of charges that might be part of the lease and may be payable to the Lease Administrator.
There has been a considerable amount of media and consumer interest recently around issues such as escalating ground rents, leasehold new-build, management fees and service charges, and the Guide has been designed to cover off a number of these issues, outlining the charges and helping consumers understand what they will have to pay.
The Guide covers the three types of charges often associated with leasehold property, namely:
- Ground rent;
- Service charges; and
- Administration charges.
It provides information any prospective purchaser should have with regards to their cost now (and in the future), and the importance of securing this information upfront before any exchange of contracts.
In terms of ‘Administration charges’, the Guide looks at those most often charged by Lease Administrators when a leaseholder sells, when a consumer buys a leasehold property, and during the course of ownership. These can range from:
- When you sell – leasehold property enquiries and exit/transfer fees.
- When you buy – Deed of Covenant, Notice of Assignment and Charge, Certificate of Compliance, and Stock Transfer.
- During ownership – consents, Notice of Charge, Deed of Variation.
The Guide outlines exactly what these charges are and why the leaseholder might need this information from the Lease Administrator.
Finally, the new Guide also looks at the very important issue of the reasonableness of the fees charged by Lease Administrators, what these fees should typically be, and the process currently available to leaseholders if they wish to dispute unreasonable fees.
One of the CA’s key work streams focuses on the leasehold process, in particular, the excessive fees some Lease Administrators can charge, and the delays that can occur. It is campaigning strongly for fairness and transparency, and part of that campaign is the publication of this Guide to raise greater awareness amongst consumers about the costs involved and what they can do if they feel they’ve been charged too much.
CA member firms will be issuing this guide to leasehold clients, plus it is being sent to all consumer groups and LEASE – www.lease-advice.org – which provides free initial advice and guidance to consumers about residential leasehold and park homes law.
The CA would specifically like to thank Amanda Gourlay of Tanfield Chambers, Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and LEASE for commenting on the guide.
‘Leasehold Guide to Lease Administration Fees’ is available from the ‘Featured Downloads’ section on the CA website home page: www.conveyancingassociation.org.uk
Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented:
“Part of the major problem we see with the fees associated with purchasing, selling or owning a leasehold property is that many consumers simply have no idea about the potential charges involved and how they might escalate over time. We have focused strongly on the Lease Administrators during our leasehold campaign, working with the leasehold and legal industry bodies to reduce the instances of those who charge unreasonable fees for their services and to counter the amount of time it can take for the information to be delivered.
“We recognise that part of the delay comes from the difficulties conveyancers experience in identifying the right person to deal with leasehold enquiries and believe a register of Lease Administrators could solve this. However, where the Lease Administrators are unresponsive or attempting to charge unreasonable fees, a redress scheme is needed so consumers have a full and transparent complaints process to utilise if they feel these charges and delays have been unreasonable.
“This consumer guide to Lease Administration fees is designed for prospective leaseholders, as well as those who already own a property, and those looking to sell. We wanted to outline the types of charge that can come with such a property, and in particular to look at those administration charges which are made by the Lease Administrators, and the current process for disputing them. This is all about consumer education, and with leasehold such a housing market and political hot potato at present, this should be the perfect time for conveyancers, consumer groups, and all those involved in providing advice to leaseholders, to issue this Guide to ensure there are no surprises when these charges are made.”
Paula Hawkins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said:
“We very much welcome this guide on leasehold fees and will be actively promoting it on our website to those thinking of buying a leasehold property as well as those who own or are selling. There is so little awareness and understanding of these issues and we see our role as informing consumers so they are empowered to ask the right questions and to have the confidence to dispute unfair fees.”
For further information on The Conveyancing Association, please visit: www.conveyancingassociation.org.uk