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Whether you need a leasehold specialist for buying the freehold, extending a lease or sale or purchase of the lease, we can help. Our solicitors explain the complex leasehold issues in a way that makes sense.

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What Do Leasehold Solicitors Do?

18/07/2023
(Last Updated: 29/05/2024)
465
12 min read
Key Takeaways

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.

Do you need a solicitor to buy a leasehold, sell, extend the lease, or purchase the freehold?

Yes, you have to use a solicitor or a licenced conveyancer to buy a leasehold. Certain parts of the transaction legally cannot be carried out by anyone who doesn't have the necessary qualifications. Buying, extending or enfranchising a leasehold involve more complex work than a typical freehold, which could cost you a fortune or get you in trouble with the law (or both) if not handled correctly. We recommend you use a specialist leasehold solicitor, like the experts on our panel, for your leasehold conveyancing.

Is your leasehold in a block of flats?
If the leasehold you are buying is in a block of flats at least 11 metres or 5 storeys high, then you need to check if you qualify for Leaseholder Protections.

Leaseholder protections came into force with The Building Safety Act 2022. Leasehold protection places the responsibility for paying to replace defective cladding on the developers or in some cases the freeholder. It ensures that the industry contributes to the solution and that the leaseholders are protected from the financial burden of remedying the problem.

Qualifying Leaseholders are protected from all cladding remediation costs. Costs relating to non-cladding safety defects and interim measures (including waking watch) are also capped for qualifying leaseholders and must be spread over 10 years.

Qualifying leaseholders need a deed of certificate to confirm they are protected under leasehold protections. They submit this to their freeholder and the protections can be passed on, when the lease is sold or transferred, to a new leaseholder. You need to ensure your leasehold solicitor is competent in handling this type of transaction.

There was an issue where leaseholder protections were not being transferred in a lease extension by the existing owner, but this has now been rectified with the enaction of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023.

Why you need a leasehold solicitor


Understanding the Lease Agreement

The lease agreement outlines the rights and obligations of both the leaseholder (buyer) and the freeholder (landlord). A solicitor can thoroughly review the lease to ensure you understand its terms, including ground rent, service charges and any restrictions or covenants that may impact your use of the property. A common restriction placed on leaseholds is a No Pets Clause.

Protecting Your Interests

A solicitor works in your best interests and can negotiate with the seller's solicitor or the freeholder to address any concerns or issues that arise during the conveyancing process. They are legally and professionally obligated to make you aware of any unfair terms or undisclosed liabilities they can find and can help you negotiate for a fairer deal. It's important to have someone on your side who knows leasehold conveyancing inside and out or the other party will have an unfair advantage.

Searches and Due Diligence

Your solicitor will conduct various searches to uncover important information about the property, such as planning permissions, building regulations, environmental issues, and potential disputes. This due diligence is designed to uncover any nasty surprises you might otherwise only discover after buying the property.

Handling Legal Documents and Contracts

Buying, selling, transferring or extending a leasehold property involves a substantial amount of paperwork, usually including the contract of sale and the transfer of the lease. A leasehold solicitor manages all the legal documentation for you, to ensure that everything is in order and that you are protected legally. Sometimes just a few misplaced words can change the meaning and legality of a document, don't risk it.

Dealing with the Freeholder or Management Company

Your solicitor will liaise with the freeholder or the management company to request necessary information, such as the leasehold information pack and ensure everything is legally compliant. Read more - What is the Leasehold Management Pack?

Assistance with Financing and Mortgage Requirements

If you require a mortgage to buy the leasehold property, your solicitor will work with your lender to ensure that all legal and financial aspects are appropriately addressed. Mortgage lenders won't agree to lend if you have a doubling ground rent clause . Read more - Ground rent increases every 25 years - What can you do?

Compliance with Legal Regulations

A solicitor will ensure that the entire transaction complies with all relevant laws and regulations and register them with the Land Registry, giving you peace of mind that the purchase is legally sound and the legal title is updated correctly.

Given the complexities and potential risks associated with leasehold transactions, we recommend you choose a solicitor who specializes in leasehold conveyancing. Their expertise can help you navigate the process smoothly, avoid potential pitfalls, and safeguard your investment in the leasehold property.

How do you choose the best leasehold Solicitor?

Not all solicitors undertake leasehold work because of the additional complexities in reviewing the lease, management pack and handling the complex legal enquiries. When you speak to your conveyancing solicitor, before you instruct, you should ask how many leasehold transactions they handle in a month. If it is just 1 or 2, then it is better to work with a different solicitor who predominantly handles leasehold work.


How much are conveyancing fees for a leasehold?

Conveyancing fees for a leasehold property are higher than a standard freehold, as the legal work is more intricate and time-consuming.

All conveyancing fees consist of two main components: the solicitor's legal work and the disbursements (third-party costs). The solicitor's charges may be a fixed fee or based on an hourly rate, and it's wise to obtain several quotes from different solicitors to compare and make an informed decision. Our fees are fixed, so you're protected from nasty surprises.

Disbursements usually include fees for various searches, Land Registry fees, and other administrative costs. Leasehold-specific disbursements include a leasehold information pack requested from the freeholder or management company, notice of assignment, and notice of charge fees. These costs can add up. Our quote includes a detailed breakdown of all potential charges, so you can compare quotes accurately.

The conveyancing process and fees for a leasehold extension will be different from purchasing the freehold over the leasehold or simply executing a deed of variation. Arrange a free consultation with our team to discuss your options and get a tailored quote to meet your needs.

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

Do you need a local leasehold solicitor?

We have solicitors who specialise in leasehold conveyancing covering London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and throughout England and Wales.

How much does it cost to convert leasehold to freehold?

Leasehold grants ownership for a specific period, with restrictions. To own the property 'in perpetuity' (that means forever, or until you sell, transfer or die), you'll have to purchase the freehold. The cost of converting leasehold to freehold depends on the remaining lease term, the property's value, and the ground rent payable under the lease. On top of the purchase cost, the leaseholder will have to pay for the valuation fees and their own legal costs, as well as the freeholders 'reasonable costs'.

If you live in a building which contains multiple dwellings, you'll need to look at collective enfranchisement. This allows you to purchase the freehold along with the other leaseholders, so you will each own a share of freehold. Choose specialist leasehold solicitors with good client reviews to navigate the complexities of this process and negotiate the best possible terms for you.

How long does leasehold conveyancing take?

Leasehold conveyancing typically takes longer than freehold conveyancing due to the additional legal requirements involved. The process includes obtaining information from the freeholder or management company regarding the lease, service charges, ground rent, and any ongoing disputes or maintenance issues.

The time frame for leasehold conveyancing can vary, but it usually takes anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. Delays may occur if there are complications with the lease, difficulties in obtaining information from third parties, or protracted negotiations between parties.

To expedite the process, proactive communication with your chosen leasehold solicitor is vital. Your SAM Conveyancing executive will oversee your whole case, helping facilitate communication and bridge the gap between you and the solicitor for a smoother completion. Cooperating with all parties, including the freeholder and management company, can help ensure a more efficient and timely transaction.

Do leaseholders pay stamp duty?

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is different in England and Wales. Whether leaseholders are required to pay SDLT depends on the terms of their lease and the purchase price of the property.

As a general rule, you'll be liable to pay stamp duty when you:

1. Buy a leasehold property

If the purchase price of the leasehold property exceeds the SDLT threshold set by the government, which changes over time, SDLT will apply.

2. Extend a lease

Leaseholders might also be subject to SDLT when they extend their lease, particularly if there is a substantial premium involved.

3. Convert to freehold

When converting leasehold to freehold through enfranchisement or lease extension, SDLT may be applicable based on the terms of the agreement.

SDLT regulations are complex and subject to change, as we saw with the SDLT holiday of 2020/21. Seek advice from a knowledgeable leasehold solicitor or a qualified tax professional to understand the specific SDLT implications of your leasehold transaction.



Leasehold conveyancing is a specialized area of law that involves unique considerations and costs. When engaging with leasehold solicitors, it's essential to clarify all fees and potential expenses upfront and be aware of the additional time required for the process. Professional advice and proactive communication can facilitate a smoother leasehold transaction and ensure that leaseholders' rights and interests are protected throughout the legal journey.

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Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Written 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.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed 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.

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