What is a notice of transfer?
When you buy a leasehold property such as a flat, it is likely that a term of the lease is that on a change of ownership, the new owner will inform the landlord (the freeholder) or their management company who they are.
This is so that the landlord and the managing agent have the correct information about who pays the service charge and any ground rent, and can comply with their obligations to you in respect of provision of information to you.
Informing them is done using a notice of transfer, which is sometimes known as a notice of assignment (assignment being the legal term for transfer).
The leasehold information pack or information form (LPE1) should describe how notice is to be given, and whether any fees (and how much they are) need to be paid to the landlord to accept the notice.
Who issues the notice?
Typically, it is the buyer's solicitor who prepares and serves notice as part of the legal work that they undertake during the leasehold conveyancing process.
Is there a fee payable?
The landlord or management company often charge a transfer fee for updating their records. This is a type of administration charge.
The amount of the fee is set by them. Like all service and administration charges, it has to be reasonable.
Your solicitor will pay the additional fee on your behalf, then invoice you for it as a disbursement.
Liability for outstanding debts of the previous owner
Be aware that often the new leaseholder is liable for all debts outstanding to the landlord, even if those debts arose under different ownership.
It is important to check during conveyancing whether ground rent and service charge payments are up to date.
When might a notice need to be provided
You should check your lease, because giving notice is a contractual term, not a requirement under law.
Generally, you'll need to notify the landlord whenever there is a transfer of home ownership (an assignment of the lease), including if your partner or someone in your family is added as a joint owner.
As a general rule, if you need to notify HM Land Registry, you'll probably need to notify the landlord as well.
Typical reasons for transfer of home ownership
- Sale and purchase of the property
- Divorce or separation of the owners
- Gift to a long-term non-married partner
- Gift to children
- Death of one or both owners
Simultaneous notice of charge
If a charge is placed on the property (a right to be repaid a debt from the proceeds of sale) at the same time that ownership changes (i.e. a buyer takes out a mortgage on the property), then the notice of transfer might be a notice of transfer and charge that informs the landlord of the details of the mortgage lender as well as the new tenant.