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Leaseholder and Freeholder high fiving the terms of the lease extension. SAM Conveyancing's guide to an informal lease extension process

Informal Lease Extension Process

(Last Updated: 24/07/2024)
8 min read

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 was passed on the 24th May 2024, but is not yet in effect and the date for this is not yet clear. We will update our content as and when the finalised legislation is published.

Some of the expected changes include:

  • 990 year standard lease extension for houses and flats
  • Standardised format for service charge bills, for greater transparency
  • Leaseholders will no longer have to pay their freeholder’s costs when making a claim
  • Freeholders who manage their building directly must belong to a redress scheme, so leaseholders can challenge them if needed (already applies to managing agents)
  • Ban on sale of leasehold houses, except in specific circumstances and schemes
  • Fair and transparent buildings insurance handling fees
  • Removal of two year requirement before statutory extension

While the existing act abolishes ground rent on lease extension and new leases, the new act does not cap ground rent on pre-existing leases.

How to extend your lease

As a leaseholder, you have 2 routes to follow if you wish to extend the number of years on your lease: formal and informal. The formal lease extension process is more strict, following a series of procedures and notices that you have to serve to your freeholder. It also has limitations in terms of how much you can extend the lease.

The informal lease extension process is easier and offers more flexibility, as you just agree informally with your landlord, but this also means it is riskier in terms of legal protections.

Difference between a formal and informal lease agreement

  • Formal Lease Extension follows the statutory route adding an additional 90 years onto your current lease term, reducing ground rent to zero (known as a Peppercorn Ground Rent), premium calculated within and the process timeline governed by statutory parameters.
  • Informal Lease Extension doesn't follow the statutory route, can agree any length of lease term (up to 999 years), new clauses and ground rent only reduces to zero after the original term expires, premium can be for any value and isn't governed by a set timeline (if you own a shared ownership property you can only use the informal route until you staircase to 100%).

This article follows the Informal Lease Extension Process and explains the Pros and Cons of following this route.

What are the Pros and Cons of the Informal Route?


  • You can extend your lease without having to wait for the statutory 2 years
  • You can agree a more favourable informal deal with your freeholder
  • Share of freeholders can extend the lease to 999 years for zero premium
  • Save money not paying for the formal route's Section 42 Notice


  • The process can take months to complete as it doesn't follow the statutory time limit
  • The freeholder may not offer a favourable lease term or premium
  • The ground rent will stay at the old rate until the pre-existing term expires, whereas a formal extension will reduce the ground rent to one peppercorn per year immediately on completion
  • There are no guarantees that you'll eventually get your lease extension and you stand to lose any money you've invested in the process

How long does an informal lease extension take?

The timeline is entirely dependent on how quickly you can agree with your freeholder on a premium and new lease terms. The informal lease extension process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Having a competent RICS surveyor to help you negotiate will speed up the process.

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What is the Informal Lease Extension Process?

This is the Informal Lease Extension Process from start to finish:

  • 1

    Freehold or Leaseholder make an offer

Freeholder provides an informal offer

It is common for Freeholders to make an informal offer to extend your lease. The formal wording of an offer would be similar to the following:

"I can confirm that the Freeholder has carried out a Valuation as requested to extend your lease to 99 years for the sum of £15,000..."

The fact a Freeholder has made you an informal offer doesn't mean you have to accept it; you may feel that the premium is too high for the number of years offered (see 'Instruct your RICS surveyor' below) or you may feel that you'll get more value for money by extending using the formal lease extension route.

Leaseholder provides an informal offer

As a leaseholder, you can make an informal offer (i.e. what premium you're offering to pay for extending your lease alongside how many years you want to extend it by) to your freeholder. To do this you need to either:

  • Speak to your managing agent and make your informal offer to them - some managing agents only accept the formal route to extend a lease; or
  • Liaise directly with your freeholder. You can find your freeholder's address on the ground rent receipts provided annually or on the title deeds downloadable for £3 from the Land Registry.

Use our template informal lease extension letter

The valuation letter should include the premium you are offering for the number of years you want to extend by. Download your template letter by clicking the button below.

  • 2

    Instruct your RICS surveyor

There are many online lease extension calculators that can give you a general indication of what you might reasonably expect to pay for your lease extension, however you should instruct a RICS-qualified lease extension valuer to accurately confirm how much you should offer or to confirm if your freeholder's offer is accurate.

As the informal route is an informal negotiation between a freeholder and leaseholder, your freeholder will often offer you a more expensive premium compared to when adding 90 years under the formal route. The best advice is to obtain a RICS lease extension valuation for the formal 90 years and then use this to work out if the premium on offer the number of years is good value; if not, perhaps the formal route would be more advantageous.

Tip: Get a Valuation for BOTH the Informal and Formal route

Speak to your surveyor and ask them to provide a figure for extending the lease for the agreed informal time period and also the formal 90 years. You can then compare the two and see which is better value.

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  • 3

    Instruct your solicitor

The process is:

  • Your solicitor obtains your formal instruction, ID and proof of funds to pay for the premium
  • Your solicitor receives the payment for your freeholder's solicitor fees
  • Your freeholder sends across the new lease including new lease term, ground rent and any additional clauses the freeholder wants included
  • New lease is reviewed, amended and agreed
  • (if there is a mortgage) Completion of a Deed of Substituted Security
  • Completion takes place where the lease premium is paid to the freeholder along with the freeholder's costs
  • Registration of the new lease at the Land Registry

Make sure you have settled your ground rent and service charge

Freeholders often delay completion if there are service charges or ground rent outstanding. A common exception to this is a Tyneside Lease, as both parties will want to extent their leases simultaneously.

Free initial leasehold advice

Arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced conveyancing executives on:

Lease Extension Solicitors Consultation
  • Lease extension
  • Purchasing the leasehold, freehold or share of freehold
  • Selling a leasehold property with a short lease
  • Extending the lease at the same time as you sell

We specialise in lease extensions and have RICS valuers for the premium/negotiation and solicitors for the section 42 notice and formal or informal extension.

Request a tailored quote for:
  • RICS Lease Extension Valuation or L2 Homebuyers Survey
  • Serving of the section 42 notice, or section 13 notice on the freeholder
  • Negotiation with the freeholder (with the support of your RICS valuer)
  • Completion of the legal work, including deed of variation
  • Application to Tribunal to determine the premium
  • Vesting order for absent landlords

Informal lease extension costs

The leaseholder will usually be responsible for the freeholder's solicitor fees. You can expect to pay anything between £2000 and £4000 to informally extend your lease, excluding stamp duty costs and Land Registry fees.

The informal lease extension cost can be broken down into:

  • £600 to £900* RICS lease valuation - if your freeholder refuses your offer, you might have to pay for the valuation fees as well
  • £820 to £1,200** Leaseholder's solicitor fees
  • £820 to £1,200 Freeholder's solicitor fees
  • £15 Online ID fees
  • £6 Official copy of register and title plan
  • £10 Bankruptcy and priority land registry fee (if remortgaging)
  • £TBC Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • £TBC Land Registration fees

Read more - Lease Extension Cost

Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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