Warner flats are popular and make great homes. Like all flats, they exist within the framework of an antiquated leasehold law and knowing some of the issues other buyers have faced will help you navigate the process. A good solicitor should be aware of these points, but knowing them at the outset may help your search. Best of luck and we welcome your questions and buying experiences!
1. Check the lease length. Once it drops below 80 you will need to pay a premium to get it extended, which increases year on year, and you will need to wait two years before you can extend it through the Act.
2. If the vendor is negotiating a lease extension directly with the freeholder, be wary of inflated ground rent. In some cases the freeholder may add a clause saying the ground rent is to be reviewed every 20 years in line with the Retail Price Index. It’s not a show-stopper but you should discuss it with your solicitor.
3. Meet your would-be neighbour. Warner leases define the ground and first floor flat as one building. Responsibility for maintenance is divided 50/50 between the two leaseholders, so it helps if they are easy to contact. If both leaseholders want to, they are entitled to buy the freehold. This could be a good move if either of you is considering an extension or loft conversion, as it removes the problem of getting freeholder permission. It also means you are both free to buy your own insurance.
4. With first floor flats, if you might want to extend into the loft in the future, ask your solicitor to check the loft is clearly part of the demised premises. If the wording is ambiguous, the freeholder may try to sell it to you!
5. Ask your solicitor to check the leases are reciprocal! We heard of one instance where a sale fell through because the buyer’s solicitor found some clauses about shared responsibilities did not appear in the other flat’s lease.
6. If the flat is in a conservation area, additional permission is needed from the council for changes that affect the front exterior.