Leasehold flats in Westminster

Westminster Lease Extension

Linz Darlington | April 2024

Westminster is littered with landmarks from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. Rubbing shoulders with the iconic sights however, Westminster has its fair share of ­residential properties, and many of them are leasehold.

If your home is leasehold, you have the right to extend your lease by 90 years and bring your ground rent to zero. These rights were enshrined in law in 1993, in a piece of legislation called the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act.

At Homehold, we specialise in helping homeowners to do just that: whether you live in a modern apartment complex in Soho, a Peabody in Pimlico, or above a theatre in Covent Garden!

If you’re looking for a lease extension company in Westminster you’re in the right place. The lease extension process is quite involved: much like buying a house, there are elements of surveying, negotiation and legal conveyancing. However, unlike a house purchase, where you have to co-ordinate various services, we offer a one-stop-shop approach that includes everything at a fixed price.

Homehold has considerable experience of working with leaseholders in the City of Westminster and specifically in doing Westminster Council lease extensions. We’ve completed extensions on a range of properties from flats above commercial properties in Dean Street, to ex-local authority blocks in Bayswater.

What's next for your Westminster flat?

Can I extend my Westminster Lease?

If your Westminster home is a flat, you almost certainly have the right to extend your lease. It’s nearly guaranteed you will be able to extend your lease if your flat is ex-local authority owned.

Cases where you won’t be able to extend your lease include the following:

  • if you haven’t yet owned the property for two years: you can begin the process only after 24 months of ownership
  • if you have bought your flat through a share-to-buy scheme and haven’t yet ‘fully staircased’ (built up your ownership to 100%)

What does a lease extension cost?

There are two key elements to the cost of a lease extension: the ‘premium’ – what you’ll pay to your freeholder for the extension; and the professional services fees that cover the surveying, negotiating and legal work required.

The Premium

The cost of the premium is negotiated on the basis of three factors.

  1. The value of your flat on the open market
  2. How long remains on your lease
  3. How much you pay in ground rent

Flat Value

The greater the value of your flat the greater the premium. We’ve helped leaseholders extend properties from Helmsdale House in Maida Vale where a flat might cost around £300k, to Queensborough Terrace apartments near Hyde Park worth £1.25m. Your property price will impact the cost of your premium; but it won’t impact your right to extend or the cost of our services to you.

We have a premium calculator that can give you a rough guide to what you might pay. If you’re unsure of the value of your flat you can work on the basis that the average price of a flat in Westminster is just below £1.5 million.

Lease Length

The cost of extending your lease begins to increase considerably if your lease is shorter than 80 years. This situation is more common with private freeholders. For many ex-local authority leases – such a flat in Falkirk House in Maida Vale  – the leases were sold in the 1980s with the introduction of ‘Right to Buy’ and started with 125 year leases.

Ground Rent

Many traditional ground rents were set at ‘peppercorn’ – a negligible sum. If this is the case, it has minimal impact on the premium. Where ground rent can have a greater impact is if the figure is high, or if your lease contains clauses about it increasing in the future.

The final cost of your lease extension premium is in no small way dictated by your counter party: the freeholder. This means that negotiation is key to the process and it’s something we pride ourself on. In the case of ex-local authority properties, we have a good working relationship with the legal team at Westminster Council, who are generally amenable.  Private freeholders are less predictable, but are responsive to well supported valuation work.

How does the lease extension process work?

The lease extension process follows a clear trajectory from preparation and valuation to serving notice and negotiation, and concluding with the conveyancing of your new lease.

At Homehold we undertake the entire process. Not only that, we don’t outsource any of the work. We employ our own surveyors and own a law firm, LLS, who are a regulated by the Solicitors Authority and specialise in leasehold law.

Stage 1: Preparation and Valuation

Preparation is key! At the outset of the lease extension process, our legal team will review your lease and the legal documents associated with your building.

Next, our in-house surveyors will establish a valuation of your flat. Success at the negotiation stage depends on this being well-researched and well-evidenced. Data on comparable properties tends to be critical here: there’s no point in looking at studios in Soho if yours is a penthouse in Pimlico!

Stage 2: Notice Serving and Negotiation

Once the groundwork is laid, we will serve your freeholder with a formal “section 42 notice”. This informs them of your intent to extend your lease under the 1993 law, and lays out your terms.

Your freeholder then has a 75-day window to respond with their counter notice, which is two months plus some time for postage. In most cases they take near enough the full 75 days, and in most cases they respond with a counter offer for a higher premium.

At this point we will then negotiate with your freeholder to get you the best possible price. Our hard work during stage one comes into play here: we find that strong research is influential in getting good results. Our experience of Westminster lease extensions has real value at the negotiating table.

Stage 3: Conveyancing and Completion

A deal is on the table! The final part of the process is to reflect what we’ve agreed with the freeholder in your lease. The way the law works is that the freeholder prepares the revised lease, so it’s crucial that this is carefully reviewed by seasoned professionals. We want 90 additional years, zero ground rent, and absolutely no other changes to that document.

Once agreed, your solicitors will conclude the deal and register your lease extension at the Land Registry.

What do Homehold Charge?

We offer an all-inclusive price of £2,400+VAT. This is charged in three equal instalments of £800+VAT.

Any additional costs, like Land Registry fees, are included. No surprises.

Lastly, you can be assured that all our work happens under the Homehold roof. Accountability, good communication and transparency are our watchwords and they can only be guaranteed by having all the team in house.

Why use homehold?

Extending leases in the City of Westminster is our bread and butter.

“I almost always have a case file from Westminster open on my desk: it’s one of the areas we work in most. Between our knowledge of the local housing market and a good relationship with Westminster Council, I know we can get a good deal for leaseholders.” Leah Veasey, Solicitor and Legal Director at LLS

Westminster is not just another tourist hotspot for you: it’s your home. We recognise the gravity of what your property means to you both personally and financially. Should you choose to work with Homehold, we will treat your lease extension with the attention and seriousness it deserves.

We hope this outlook is reflected in our reviews: please do have a look – and see what leaseholders from Belgravia to St James are saying about our work.

Hear it from another flat owner in Westminster

I am fully satisfied with my experience with Homehold and LLS. I was reassured by their awareness of the time limitation to completion and was confident that all issues were being addressed in a timely fashion. I have no hesitation in recommending Homehold and LLS to any potential clients.

Gerald W, Westminster

Start your lease extension in Westminster today

Article author photo

Linz is the CEO and co-founder of Homehold. He’s always looking at how we can improve our service and better support you through the lease extension process. If you have any questions about your lease he’d be delighted to help.

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