What is a ‘Reasonable’ Leasehold Event Fee?
Skipton Building Society is the latest lender to change their Handbook requirements introducing a reasonableness test when it comes to leasehold event fees.
The new instruction at section 5.14.9 reads ‘….event fees must remain at a reasonable level at all times during the lease term’
This begs a couple of questions: “What is an ‘event fee’?” and, “What is ‘a reasonable level’ when it comes to an event fee?”
Ordinarily, the reference to a leasehold event fee is within the context of a retirement property leases. Nevertheless I am yet to find a single lender who, in their Part 2 Handbook instructions, narrowly limits the definition of event fees solely to retirement properties.
In the absence of such a limitation I expect lenders to assert that an event fee would cover fees referenced in a lease such as Transfer Fees, Subletting Fees*, Management Fees and Consent Fees. These are all examples of ‘events’ where a fee is applied.
If there are unreasonable fees specified in the lease, or, even if you are on notice of excessive fees outside lease (e.g. management fees), you must make a disclosure to the lender.
The Conveyancing Association in 2016 estimated that up to 75% of leasehold home movers were being charged unreasonable fees. If that is true then that should result in a significant amount of disclosures based on Handbook requirements.
When it comes to the ‘reasonableness’ test, unless it’s obviously a low event fee, I suggest that you disclose the details to the both clients (lender and borrower) and deflect the responsibility on them to make the decision whether to move forward.
The Upper Chamber (Lands Tribunal) back in 2012 determined that Sub-letting fees should not be more than £40. Therefore any subletting fee that is higher is unreasonable and should be referred to the lender. Sub-letting charges of £100 – £135 are of course very common.
Kindly shared by Simon Seaton, Non-Practicing Solicitor