Call for administration of UK leasehold property sales to be streamlined

Taylor Scott International News

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry in the UK, has outlined a number of recommendations to end what it believes to be significant delays and overcharging taking place within the leasehold sector. A growing number of leasehold sales are taking place each year across all UK regions, up from 220,000 in 2011 to 260,000 in 2015, with 57% in Greater London and 40% in the North West. As a result the CA wants to see a streamlined process taking out the unnecessary delays and a cut to what it describes as ‘unwarranted’ fees charged by many lease administrators who administer the terms of the lease to the leaseholder. In a recent survey of conveyancers some 56% of CA member firms said they believe that in 30% of transactions lease administrators charge unreasonable fees, and a further 32% said in 16% to 30% of sales they charge unreasonable fees. On top of this, 62% of estate agents, the traditional buffer between the consumer and the process, say that the provision of leasehold sale information causes real issues in the house moving process, with 34% branding it ‘an absolute nightmare’. Common problems within the process include identifying the lease administrator as there is no registration or regulation required and significant delays can be incurred attempting to find the right person or company. There is also a recognised imbalance of bargaining power between the lease administrator and the leaseholder as there is currently no requirement for the publication of costs or any control over their extent in relation to receipt of service of notice, deed of covenant, share transfer or certificate of compliance. When it comes to overcharging on the part of the lease administrators the CA has seen cases where costs levied are up to nine times more than what the conveyancing industry might expect them to charge for carrying out such work. On average Lease Administrators are charging between £250 per hour and £360 per hour for administrative work, far in excess of what conveyancers and customers might expect those charges to be. The CA also points out that there is also often a duplication of costs with leaseholders required to pay multiple parties to complete their LPE1 (Leasehold Property Enquiry) form and no redress system is currently available to existing or incoming leaseholders with no effective consumer rights and no recourse to the Ombudsman given its lack of jurisdiction over costs unless the complaint is in respect of a breach of agreement for those costs. It points out that there can be significant delays in the provision of the LPE1 information and dealing with other requirements post-sale necessary for the registration and protection of the leaseholder’s title. This causes significant distress to a chain of house movers and can cause sales to fall through. To reduce the impact of these issues the CA suggests that delays in the… Taylor Scott International

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