Q. I recently moved out of my apartment into a house as my family is expanding. I decided to keep my apartment and rent it out which so far is going really well. However, following notifying my Managing Agents of my change of address for the service charge accounts they have contacted me to say as per terms of the lease I must serve a Notice of subletting if I am renting the apartment. They also require a fee to grant permission. Is this correct or are they just trying to extract yet more money out of me for no reason?
A. I am afraid this is absolutely correct. The information concerning this in your lease. You seem to have vacated the apartment and entered into a lettings contract without knowing what you are permitted to do as a leaseholder or seeking any legal advice about this, a genuine mistake that many new Landlords are not aware of. If you have a mortgage on the property there may be restrictions from the bank or lender also, so you should also contact them immediately requesting permission to rent the property if you haven’t already done so. If you are the original owner of the property then you will have signed the lease which is the contract and your solicitor can advise you as to your obligations as a tenant (remember as a leasehold property you rent the flat from the Freeholder on a long lease and this entails obligations on both sides) If you purchased the apartment from somebody else you will have signed a Deed of covenant promising to uphold the covenants as per the original lease. You will need to complete the notice of subletting the Managing agent has sent you and return it together with the fee. Unfortunately they are perfectly within their rights to charge you a fee for this for this as there is administration involved in issuing the documentation for the notice to sublet and consequently the updating of their records accordingly. Ultimately and although yet a further expense and yet more red tape, when it comes to leasehold properties it is always best to co-operate with your managing agent and keep everything above board as it were. Particularly as if you ever come to sell the place you will need their co-operation in providing the necessary documentation to the buyer’s solicitor, if you already have a good track record with them as a leaseholder you will find that they in turn will be more willing to assist if you have conformed to all the rules and regulations stated within the head lease.