Leasehold Problem on Selling Townhouse

We have lived in a leasehold townhouse that we are now selling and have had no problems. Now we are selling the property a totally unexpected issue has arisen. Basically the leasehold currently states that if the yearly leasehold payment is missed that the freeholders can take control of the property without having to inform the mortgage company and without the normal 28 day notice period. We have never had an issue as we have always paid on time.

We were not aware of this situation and it was never flagged by our solicitor when we purchased the property so it has only just come to our attention during the sales process.

Now we are selling the property the buyers solicitors are insisting on and ‘require a Deed of Variation’ to correct this issue, we think it may be the mortgage lender that is wanting this adding. We have been told that we will have to pay for this but believe that this should have been flagged when we bought the house as we also required a mortgage but we were not made aware of this potential problems.

Also we believe the freeholder and his solicitor are taking advantage of the situation and being unreasonable with their fees, we have been quoted almost £3000 to insert this new deed of variant that seems to be split between the freeholder and his solicitor.

Finally we suggested to the buyers solicitor that we thought the costs were unreasonable and our solicitor advised that we suggest we would pay for an idemnity insurance policy to protect the buyers which we would pay for, but they refused this offer.

I would be grateful if anyone could give me some advice on this matter.

Regards Mark

I suppose it depends how much you get for the place and if 3k is not much compared to the selling price. Then again you could say to the buyers that if they do not accept the indemnity insurance you will not sell to them. It is a lottery.

Thanks for the advice. Yes its like a game of poker maybe.

Often lawyers seem to love making a meal of these kind of issues, especially where one appears to have the upper hand.

Are you able to speak directly with the buyer? Sometimes in conversation you discover the Buyer is frustrated with their own lawyer and just wants the deal done!

If you each agree to instruct your lawyers to find a solution and stop the back and forth time wasting, you might be surprised at how easy a solution may emerge.

If you’re keen to sell and the buyers really want the house, you may be able to reach a compromise. Eg proposing you split the cost of the amendment as a gesture of goodwill?

If they turn that down you might need to be prepared to look for another buyer and hope they have a lawyer like yours when you bought the house.

You could try writing to your original lawyer to claim back the costs arising from their omission and mention you are considering reporting their failure to highlight such an important clause to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SLA). You never know, it might work!
Good luck!

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Thanks for the advice Maria :slight_smile:

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