Why a short lease is an issue and what you can do to change it

Extending a lease may be easier than you think

Extending a lease may be easier than you think - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We know a short lease is bad news, but why? And what can be done to extend it?

Dan Lowery, Director of Surveying at estate agency chain, Romans, explains that a short lease can affect the value of the property as well as limit its potential buyers.

He says: “Leases with less than 80 years remaining can cost substantially more to extend than those with more than 80 years remaining. Mortgage lending can also be problematic; with leases of less than 70 years you may have to limit yourself to cash buyers and look at alternative selling methods such as auction.

“In almost all cases, the seller will more than likely need to accept a lower price than would normally be expected with a longer lease.”

Leases can be extended, however – but at a cost.

Dan explains: “Under the 1993 Leasehold Reform Act, most leaseholders are legally entitled to get 90 years added to their lease providing they have owned the property for more than two years. The good news is, this Act can also oblige the freeholder to reduce the ground rent to nil”.

Providing you meet the requirements of the Leasehold reform Act, these are your options, according to Dan:

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Option one: Extend the lease before you sell. The sooner you do so, the cheaper it will be and when you come to sell, you should be able to achieve the maximum sales price and not accept a fall in value.

Option two: Start the lease extension process now so the new owner can continue with it. As they will not be able to extend the lease themselves until they have owned the property for two years, this may give you a stronger negotiating position when accepting offers.

Option three: Sell the property with a shorter lease. However, bear in mind that you may need to sell at a lower asking price or sell by auction.

Romans offer advice on completing and/or financing a lease extension as well as choosing the right method of sale for your property. For more information, call 0333 1220 961.