Behind The Scenes At Leasegevity: An Interview With James Stanhope

Whenever we take on a case, we pride ourselves on acting in the best interests of our clients.

It’s why we always like to take the opportunity to get to know about you and your needs early on in the process.

We thought it would be a nice idea to do the same and tell you a bit more about some of the members of our team too.

These are the people who’ll be working on your behalf to get your lease extension sorted quickly and cost-effectively should you hire us to represent you.

So, this time round we sit down with one of our property valuers, James Stanhope, to find out more about him and what advice he’d give to anyone looking to extend their lease.


LEASEGEVITY: Hi James – thanks for sitting down to chat, I know you’re busy working on a few different cases today. So let’s start by asking what your role is at Leasegevity?


JAMES: It’s no problem – it’s nice to talk. And officially, my area of expertise is in valuation. So, my official title is valuer.

In practice I’m involved every step of the way.

I offer advice to a tenant in the initial stages, calculate the cost of the premium, serve notices as we get into the heart of a lease extension and I’ll follow up as is needed to make sure everything reaches its conclusion.


LEASEGEVITY: You mentioned valuation is your area of expertise. How did you get into leasehold enfranchisement generally?


JAMES: I studied Business Property Management at Sheffield Hallam University for five years. That was more than a decade ago now. This was part of my training with a local estate agent and surveying course was a day release scheme.

I enjoyed it all, but during that time I started to become interested in lease extensions and valuation and kept digging down that route.

As well as finding it interesting, I was surprised to discover how specialist it was. Very few people cover this part of the industry, especially outside of London.

So it seemed like a good specialism to pursue and then when Kevin (Leasegevity’s Director) was setting up Leasegevity, it was natural for me to get involved.


LEASEGEVITY: Seems like a good fit. So, when it comes to extending a lease, what’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to someone?


JAMES: Get professional help.

That’s not me trying to say come to us. I think people should. But even if not, I’d really encourage people to seek some advice from a professional.

The reason is, extending your lease can be an extremely complex process and it’s easy to get lost in it.

And it’s easy to pay over the odds too. But there’s no need if you get proper help.


LEASEGEVITY: Sure. It can be quite daunting if you try to go it alone. What should people be aware of if they do go direct and try to deal with it themselves?


JAMES: The main thing is making sure you get good terms. When we act on behalf of a client, we do so within the confines of the relevant legal Act. When the leaseholder approaches the freeholder directly, they are not confined by the relevant Act and will often offer you unfavourable terms.

A lot of the larger companies out there will make it seem like a good deal now, but it could mean you end up paying thousands in ground rent 40 or 50 years down the line.

You may think that won’t affect you now but it could cause problems if you want to sell, re-mortgage or extend your lease in the future

If people are unsure of the whole process, the best thing they can do is contact us for a chat. You don’t need to pay anything unless you take us on to handle your case.

So it makes sense to at least get that initial consultation to see what’s involved. Then people can make the call either way. It’s just better to be fully prepared.


LEASEGEVITY: That makes sense. And they can call or email, right?


JAMES: Sure. You can call us direct on 0300 400 3279 or they can reach us through our contact page on the website (you can link to that right here).


LEASEGEVITY: Great. What’s the most common problem you hear about from people looking to extend their lease?


JAMES: That’s a tough one just because when people extend their lease through us, there really aren’t that many problems. We take care of everything to make sure there isn’t.

But I think though some people will sometimes find the cost of extending a lease a pain – if they leave it too late.

It’s one of the reasons we say so often that the earlier you can start on an extension the better. The longer you wait the more costly it becomes.


LEASEGEVITY: Earlier the better, right? Don’t put it off. What’s the weirdest case you’ve ever come across?


JAMES: Most cases are generally pretty normal and routine to be honest.

But I do remember there was one landlord who sacked the surveyors twice because they weren’t happy with the valuation (even though both valuers were in fact correct in their assessments).

We eventually had to attend a Tribunal to settle the case. The landlord had proposed a value for the premium but it was wildly out. The case was found to be in our favour and we saved our leaseholder client around £140k, which they were delighted about.


LEASEGEVITY: Just shows why you should always seek out professional help.


JAMES: Exactly.


LEASEGEVITY: When you’re not helping people extend their lease, what do you get up to?


JAMES: I like to spend as much time with the family as I can really. My partner and I have four girls so I’m totally outnumbered, but I still like to hang out with them as much as I can.


LEASEGEVITY: Five to one? I can’t imagine you win many arguments at home?


JAMES: Yeah, the girls tend to win. I’m used to it now.


LEASEGEVITY: And finally, as you spend so much time talking property: can you describe your dream home?


JAMES: That’s hard. A castle? Why not? Yeah, I’d like a castle. Just the amount of rooms would be good. Then I could at least sneak off now and then when I’m being outnumbered.


LEASEGEVITY: I don’t think there are many people who would turn down a castle. Good answer and thanks again for your time, James.


Remember, if you think your lease might need extending and want to find out more about how Leasegevity can help you, just give us a call on +44 (0) 300 400 3279 or reach us through our contact page here.


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