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propertylawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 214
Experience:  Property Solicitor with expertise in commercial and residential property transactions.
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I am in the process of buying a property. It's a one bed

Customer Question

Hi. I am in the process of buying a property. It's a one bed flat, leasehold. I recently found out that there are 2 titles on that flat (it's split in half). One title absolute and one good leasehold. The seller refused to merge those two titles together saying it will take too much time. Should I be worry? How difficult is it to merge them, how costly it is and how much time does it take?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 3 months ago.

Hi Dominika

It may be possible. Rule 3(4) of the Land Registration Rules 2003 allows for amalgamating titles in this way, subject to some qualifications:

“The registrar may amalgamate two or more registered titles, or add an estate which is being registered for the first time to an existing registered title, if the estates are of the same kind and are vested in the same proprietor–

(a) on the application of the proprietor of the registered estate and of any registered charge over it, or

(b) if he considers it desirable for the keeping of the register of title.”

The exact procedure is not clear, however, so your solicitor will need to contact the Land Registry to whom the application will be made. I think that it will simply be Form AP1 and I think that this could be dealt with as part of the application to register the flat in your name, following the transfer.

I hope this helps. Do you need any further assistance. I am happy to deal with any further questions or queries in relation to your question or my reply.

Kind regards

Expert:  propertylawyer replied 3 months ago.

Hi again,

I just wanted to follow up on the good leasehold title point. Unless you can upgrade this then you may not be able to merge the titles into one. I don't know if it has been explained to you but I will do so now. So why/when is good leasehold title granted?

Under the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002),good leasehold title is given where the registrar considers that the title is such as a willing buyer could properly be advised by a competent professional advisor to accept (section 10(3), LRA 2002). In comparison, absolute leasehold title can be given if the registrar considers that the title is such as a willing buyer could properly be advised by a competent professional advisor to accept and the registrar approves the landlord's title to grant the lease (section 10(2), LRA 2002).

Good leasehold title will therefore be given where the superior title has not been issued and proved to the registrar's satisfaction and the registrar cannot approve the landlord's entitlement to grant the lease.

The rules relating to deduction of title mean that, on the transfer of a lease that will result in first registration of the lease, there is normally no requirement for the assignor to deduce title to the superior interest(s). If title to the superior interest(s) is unregistered, and not deduced on a voluntary basis, the assignee of a lease will be unable to provide sufficient evidence of title to the Land Registry for the lease to be registered with absolute leasehold title.

Before 19 June 2006, the Land Registry would grant only good leasehold title if evidence of consent to the grant of the lease was not provided where:

  • The lease being registered was an underlease and the headlease either absolutely prohibited subletting or only permitted it with consent.

  • The landlord's mortgagee's consent was required.

The Land Registry now approves absolute leasehold title in these circumstances. However, where the Land Registry would have previously awarded only good leasehold title, it will make an entry on the register of the relevant title to put those investigating title on notice that the registered lease is vulnerable due to the interest of the superior landlord or mortgagee, as appropriate.

Why is it a problem?

If a lease is registered with good leasehold title:

  • The Land Registry does not guarantee the title to the reversion, which means that the validity of the lease may be vulnerable to challenge. In addition, the property may be subject to unknown restrictive covenants or other incumbrances, which may affect the use of the property.

  • The lease may be unacceptable as security for a loan. Even if the buyer does not (currently) require a mortgage, the property would be more difficult to resell or mortgage in the future.

    Where the CML Lenders' Handbook for Conveyancers (Lenders' Handbook) applies, goodleasehold title will only be acceptable in limited circumstances .

Lenders' Handbook provides that:

"Good leasehold title will be acceptable if:

  • a marked abstract of the freehold and any intermediate leasehold title for the statutory period of 15 years before the grant of the lease is provided; or

  • you are prepared to certify that the title isgood and marketable when sending your certificate of title (because, for example, the landlord's title is generally accepted in the district where the property is situated); or

  • you arrange indemnity insurance. Our requirements in respect of indemnity insurance are set out in section 9."

What can be done?

The appropriate method for dealing with a property that is registered with good leasehold title will depend to a certain extent on why the Land Registry decided to grant that class of title on first registration and whether the circumstances have changed since then. The options are:

  • To apply to the Land Registry to upgrade the title to absolute leasehold title.

  • To obtain an indemnity insurance policy.

Depending on the relative bargaining strength of the parties, the buyer may be able to negotiate that the seller should pay for the costs involved in resolving this title issue. If any matters remain outstanding by the time the parties are due to exchange, the buyer should insert provisions in the contract to specify what further steps the seller needs to take.

Upgrading to absolute leasehold title

It is possible to upgrade the class of title from good leasehold to absolute leasehold title in the following circumstances:

  • Where the applicant can produce satisfactory evidence of the landlord's title and, where the landlord is not the freeholder, title to any other reversionary titles up to and including the freeholder.

  • Where the reversionary titles are (now) registered with absolute title.

  • Where the applicant can produce evidence of the consent of the landlord's mortgagee or the consent of a superior landlord to the granting of the lease. This situation applies for properties registered before 19 June 2006 if the reason for granting goodleasehold title was because the relevant consent had not been produced.

    It is also possible to apply to upgrade to absolute leasehold title even if the applicant is unable to produce the missing consent, on the basis of the change in Land Registry policy. However, the Land Registry will add an entry that reflects the fact that the relevant consent was not provided.

The form prescribed for making applications to upgrade the class of title is Form UT1.

A fee is normally payable unless the application is made at the same time as a scale fee application or the sole reason for good leasehold title being granted was the failure to provide evidence of consent from the landlord's mortgagee or the superior landlord(s).

The Land Registry may not have guaranteed that any easements contained in a good leasehold title were validly granted. Therefore, when it receives an application to upgrade to absolute leasehold title, it will investigate the easements and amend the register accordingly if it finds any easements that cannot be guaranteed.

Indemnity insurance

If the seller is unable to upgrade the title to absoluteleasehold title it may be possible to obtain an indemnity insurance policy in respect of the risks associated with the defect in title.

So after this lengthy note, it may be possible to merge the two titles into one but your solicitor will need to upgrade the good leasehold title to title absolute.

I hope this helps.

Any questions or queries??

I'm happy to assist you further.

Kind regards

P.s the way the site works is you need to accept / positive rate my reply so I would be most grateful if you could take a moment to do this please. Thanks.

propertylawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 214
Experience: Property Solicitor with expertise in commercial and residential property transactions.
propertylawyer and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** very helpful.
Is it possible to know how much roughly it will cost ( to upgrade lease or get indemnity insurance and merge titles) and how much time it takes?
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 3 months ago.

How long is, sadly, like the how long is a piece of string question. Sorry i cannot predict that. It will take as long as the land registry will take. Non-straightforward applications - which yours will be - do not receive priority from the land registry, they are overworked and understaffed. Sorry, can't answer that.

As to cost, depends on any extra work your solicitor and what he/she will have to do in addition to the conveyance and whether they will charge to put the application together. As i said the exact process is not clear as to Land Registry procedure. If it can be dealt with as part of your application to register the transfer then there may be no extra Land Registry fee. If not, then it may be either a standard £40 or a fee from the fee scale dependent upon the value/purchase price.

Sorry cannot give more details on your latest questions as is dependent on facts/circumstances.

Please can I ask you to accept/positive rate so that I get paid for assisting you with your query. Thanks.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Is it possible for me to find out why the title was registered as good leasehold at first place?
Expert:  propertylawyer replied 3 months ago.

Your solicitor can ask the seller's solicitor

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