Your lease

The most important document is your lease or transfer document. Your solicitor should have given you a copy when you completed on your purchase.

Please keep this safe and contact Land Registry if you need a new copy.

New Guinness leases are typically for 250 years from the completion date of the first sale.  If you purchased a property some years ago, the standard lease term at the time is likely to have been less than this, either 99 or 125 years from the completion date of the first sale.  If you buy a property from another leaseholder, you’ll take on their lease and the remaining years.

You’ll usually pay a service charge to keep communal areas in good condition. If you are a shared owner you will also have to pay rent on the share of your home that you do not own.

Some of our homes – usually houses or bungalows – are freehold. This means that you own the property outright. Your lease or transfer agreement should explain whether your home is leasehold or freehold.

What’s in your lease?

A lease or transfer document is a legal contract so please keep it safe. If you need a copy you should first enquire with your solicitor or mortgage lender. Copies can also be obtained from UK Land Registry. Guinness is usually able to provide a copy too, but we do charge a fee for this.

Your lease explains your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder. It sets out our responsibilities too. It describes any charges and any circumstances where your lease could end. It also tells you how long your lease is.

Leases are not all the same. It’s worth checking yours first if you have any questions about your home.

Extending your lease

Whether you own your lease outright, or have a shared ownership or fixed equity lease, every year your lease’s length diminishes. A shorter lease may make it more difficult to find a buyer for your home if you want to sell, and it may make it difficult to re-mortgage.

Lenders favour leases with an unexpired term in excess of 80 years and the value of a lease extension increases once the remaining term drops below 80 years. For these reasons, if you can afford it, it is best to extend your lease before the remaining term falls below 80 years.

Lease extensions are legal processes, so you should always get specialist legal advice.

If you want to extend the time left on your lease please contact the Homeowner Legal Services Team.

How long is my lease?

When you purchased the lease to your home, your solicitor will have explained how many years were remaining on the lease. You can calculate the length of your lease by subtracting the amount of years that have passed since then.

Where can I get a copy of my lease?

Subject to keeping up any payments to your mortgage provider and Guinness, you should always keep a copy of your lease safe. If you need a copy you should first check with your solicitor or mortgage lender. Copies can also be obtained from UK Land Registry. We are usually able to provide a copy too.

How much will a lease extension cost?

The cost of a lease extension is determined by a valuer and will be based on the condition of the property, any restrictions or covenants that apply to your property and local market factors. The Leasehold Advisory Service has an online calculator, which provides an approximate value.

You will also pay legal and valuation fees to extend your lease.

Do I have a legal right to a lease extension?

If you own 100% of your lease, then you may be legally entitled to a lease extension.  Currently, leaseholders of flats can purchase a 90-year extension, in addition to the remaining years on their lease.  So, if there were 80 years remaining, and you purchased a 90-year extension, you would have a total new lease length of 170 years.  Leaseholders of houses are entitled to an additional 50 years.

If you wish to exercise your legal right to a lease extension you should speak to a specialist legal advisor.  Alternatively, Guinness can offer lease extensions through our discretionary policy.

What if I am not legally entitled to a lease extension?

Shared ownership and fixed-equity leaseholders are not currently statutorily entitled to a lease extension. However, we operate a discretionary policy and will consider selling a lease extension to all our homeowners, if we are able to.

When may Guinness be unable to sell a lease extension?

Any grant of a lease extension by us, will be determined by a valuation determined by a surveyor who is registered with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Where can I get further information and advice?

You can also get further information from the Leasehold Advisory Service: www.lease-advice.org.

Adding or removing a leaseholder

You can add or remove another person from the lease register, which is maintained by UK Land Registry, if everyone involved agrees. You’ll need permission from us, and from your lender if you have a mortgage.

A solicitor will help you with the transfer of the lease, so there’ll be legal costs to pay, as well as any costs incurred by us.

Buying the freehold of your home

Leaseholders may have the right to buy the freehold of the building as a group depending on certain conditions. If the residents and the freeholder can’t agree a price for the sale then this will be set by the First Tier Tribunal.

 

For further independent information on your rights and obligations, please look at The Leasehold Advisory Service website.