What rights do I have to extend my lease and what happens if the lease runs out?
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In broad terms there are two ways in which a lease of a flat can be extended: (1) by agreeing an informal voluntary deal with the landlord or (2) by pursing a more formal route and serving a statutory lease extension notice under the legislation.
Under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 tenants of long leases are given the right to extend. The right provided for the 1993 Act is for the grant of a lease extension (provided you have been registered as leasehold owner at the land registry for more than two years) on the following terms:
· An additional 90 year term to the unexpired term. So for example, if you have 50 years left to run on your lease, after the lease extension you will end up with a lease with an unexpired term of 140 years
· A lease on exactly the same terms as that which you have at the moment (subject to minor up- dating) and
· All for a “peppercorn rent” (i.e. nil rent for the remainder of the term).
Generally speaking, to exercise the right under the 1993 Act you must have a lease originally granted for a term of more than 21 years and you must have held your lease for at least two years.
To start the claim it is necessary to serve the landlord for a formal notice setting out the terms you propose for the lease extension including the premium you are willing to pay. Serving the notice of claim triggers a strict timetable which is set out in the legislation.
If your lease runs our or expires, there is no need to panic. The fact that the lease has expired does not mean that you have to leave the property. Unless you or your landlord takes specific steps to end the tenancy it will simply continue on exactly the same terms. You do not need do anything unless you receive a notice from your landlord. For the tenancy to actually come to an end either:
you formally surrender the tenancy if you choose to do so, or:
the landlord serves a prescribed notice on you to gain possession of the property. The landlord will need a court order to gain possession of the property, or:
the landlord may serve a prescribed notice proposing an assured periodic tenancy, where you pay a monthly rent.
Yashmin Mistry, Partner at JPC Law