Can we negotiate for a longer lease?

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, explains how homeowners can negotiate to extend the terms of an existing lease
Legal cartoon
© Merrily Harpur
Question: My husband and I have owned our maisonette for five years, with a share of the garden and a lease of, now, 75 years.

For three years we have written letters to the landlord offering to pay him for a longer lease - 100 years - but have had no proper response, even though we offered our share of the garden in exchange.

Can we force him to extend our lease? And how much should we offer? We don't want to offer this chap too much.

Answer: Once you have owned a long lease for more than two years you are, subject to certain restrictions, entitled to a new lease for 90 years - plus whatever remains of your existing lease. In your case, that means you would be entitled to a new 165-year lease.

You can try to negotiate with your landlord but there is also a procedure where you serve a notice on him requiring a new lease to be granted.

If your landlord ignores you, you are entitled, after two months, to get the new lease on the terms you set out in your notice. Once the notice is served you are responsible for your landlord's reasonable legal and surveying costs.

Usually, the terms of the new lease, and what you have to pay, are agreed between tenant and landlord but, if not, you can then apply to a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to get it sorted. You would be responsible for your own costs, but not your landlord's.

There are rules covering how much you have to pay. Seek advice from a specialist surveyor to ensure you don't pay too much. But don't offer an unreasonably low payment in the notice you serve on the landlord as this could invalidate it.

If your landlord recognises that you know what your rights are, he'll probably negotiate rather than run up his own costs resisting the inevitable.

What's your problem?


If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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