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wingrovebuyer
wingrovebuyer, Senior Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 737
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (Honours); PG Diploma in Law; Member of ALA; 9 years' experience
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Hi, I recently sold a leasehold flat in London. The buyer

Resolved Question:

Hi,
I recently sold a leasehold flat in London. The buyer had a buy to let mortgage. The day I was supposed to exchange contracts, the freeholder said they were not happy about subletting to the new buyer and demanded £15000 for a deed of variation to allow subletting (as it was a buy to let mortgage). As we had made an offer on a house, (which we didn't want to lose) together with the buyer of my flat decided to split the £15000 - so we paid the freeholder £7500 each just to get the sale through.
I asked my solicitor on numerous occasions to send me a copy of the lease as I had suspicions something was not quite right.
This is what the lease says about subletting: The lessee shall not underlet or part with the possession or occupation of the demised premises otherwise than by way of assignment of the whole.

To me that means you can sublet but you must sublet the entire flat - you can not divide the flat into different rooms and sublet these room individually. After the sale had gone through I contacted my solicitor saying they had been negligent because as far as I could see the lease did not say the flat could not be sublet. My solicitor says this is not the correct interpretation of that clause and that no subletting would be allowed at all. So my question is please could you tell me what that clause actually means.
Thanks
Al
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  wingrovebuyer replied 3 years ago.

wingrovebuyer :

Hello.

wingrovebuyer :

I'm afraid I agree with your solicitor. The wording refers to an "assignment" of the lease being possible, but that means a sale of the leasehold interest, not a subletting. Accordingly, the lease does prohibit subletting.

Customer:

Ok thanks. Do you think I could still start a negligent claim against the solicitor for not spotting this on day one, after all they had a copy of the lease and also knew it was a buy to let mortgage. I will never understand why it took them nearly 4 months to realize there was a problem against subletting?

wingrovebuyer :

Yes, maybe. If they were fully aware that the buyer was buying to sublet, they really ought to have checked the lease to see if consents would be required, if nothing else this woukd have helped avoid a delay. I think you could complain, but I am not sure you will get the £7,500 back.

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