Retirement housing schemes, or ‘sheltered housing’ as it is also known, usually consist of flats or ‘cottages’ specifically designed for elderly people. They can have many benefits such as on-site personal care, meal provision and 24-hour emergency assistance.
Where retirees have bought individual flats in a retirement scheme, it will most likely be the case that these flats will be sold to them on a leasehold basis. As such, the issues involved with lease extension can be important to people over the retirement age and live in retirement housing.
If a tenant’s lease is reaching the end of its original term (or getting close to within 80 years of its end date), then the value of their interest in it will waste time. Once the term falls below 80 years this devaluation can accelerate significantly.
Under the provisions of the Leasehold Reform Act 1993, leaseholders of retirement flats benefit from an absolute right to an extension of their lease. This enables the leaseholder to ask the freeholder to grant a new lease of 90 years, on top of the present unexpired term, at a peppercorn rent.
The procedure to extend a retirement home lease
As noted, the right to a lease extension is found under the Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (and it subsequent amendments). The procedure is begun by serving the Tenant’s Notice upon the landlord but is subject to certain requirements.
The lease must be a long lease and the tenant applicant must have owned it for the preceding two years. As long as the tenant qualifies and the competent landlord can be identified, then an initial notice can then be served. Typically, whether or not the property is registered will have implications for the ease to which this issue is addressed.
The preparation of the Tenant’s Notice is crucial, insofar as the tenant will become liable for the landlord’s reasonable costs from the date upon which he received notice and sought to extend the lease. Therefore, it is essential the notice contains no errors, inaccuracies, or misdescriptions because court expenses must be incurred to remedy them. Furthermore, finance should have been secured and established before the procedure is started to avoid any delays in the process.
Extending a lease on a retirement flat can be a complex business so professional advisers including valuers and solicitors should always be instructed by retirees to assist with a lease extension.