Extending A Lease
Tracking Down That
When Extending A Lease
Before we describe the most commonly employed method for tracking down an elusive or absentee landlord it is well worth noting that even if, after all the reasonable methods for locating your landlord have been exhausted and you still cannot locate him or her, it will still be possible to extend your lease. The process for doing so lies outside the remit for his article – but it does exist and a specialist lease extension lawyer will be able to explain it to you should the need arise to take that course of action.
However, let us back track; what are the methods lawyers will use to track down your landlord? Firstly they will have to establish exactly who is, what is termed, the ‘competent landlord’ for your property. This is usually the person who owns the property’s freehold but it might turn out to be a person known in law as the ‘head lessee’. It is the competent landlord who has the power to agree to and grant your leasehold extension and it is thus they who must be served with your initial section 42 notice under the Leasehold Reform, Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended) to initiate the process of extending your lease.
All leaseholders have a legal right under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to know the name and address of their landlord and that landlord will be committing an offence if they fail to respond to a request for this information within twenty one days. To initially establish who the competent landlord is and where he or she might be contacted, your lawyer would initially pursue their investigations by inspecting the register of freeholders at the Land Registry, a service for which the Land Registry charges a small fee. There is also a growing list of successes in tracking down landlords which are attributable to data found in other specialist online directories.
Another legal right of lease holders is to serve a section 41 notice, under the Leasehold Reform Act 1993, on the freeholder of their property. This notice requires the freeholder to supply full details of their interest in that property. This might include providing data pertaining to intermediate leases and also allowing the leaseholder to have sight of documentation relevant to the property such as surveys and details of service charges.
Freeholders are required to respond to such a section 41 notice within twenty eight days and service of the notice does not in any way initiate the start the start of a lease extension application nor allow the freeholder to add the cost to themselves of responding to the notice to their ‘reasonable costs’ in any subsequent application by the leaseholder to extend that lease.
Thus there are proven ways of finding your landlord and you have powers under statute to compel your landlord to supply you with his/her name, address and details of their interest in your property including access to documentation pertinent to any subsequent lease extension application. And remember, if you are looking at a lease extension and all reasonable efforts to locate your landlord fail, such failure does not herald the demise of your application to extend your lease – just just instruct a specialist lease extension lawyer.