Second Floor Extension to my First Floor Flat

by Readers Question

9:24 AM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Second Floor Extension to my First Floor Flat

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Second Floor Extension to my First Floor Flat

I live in block of flats with my family (wife and 2 daughters). The block has got 47 flats in total. The first 45 flats are in the main block and 46 & 47 are at the back of main block. If you imagine like a detached house, Flat 46 is ground floor flat and Flat 47 (my flat) is on the first floor. My flat has flat roof and recently I had applied for planning permission to build an additional storey on top of my flat. There are no adjoining flats apart from flat 46 which is below mine.flat roof

The local council has approved the planning application and granted me the planning permission to build the additional storey.

To start the work, I also need to get the consent from the freeholder to carry out the construction.

The freeholder is a freehold company formed by 33 lease holders of our block and I also hold a share in the freehold ltd. company (i.e. share of freehold as well as 999 years head & sub lease). The directors of freehold company are responsible to take decisions on behalf of this company.

When I applied for permission from freeholders, they refused it due to following reasons
1. Noise pollution
2. Structural Soundness
3. Variation to all the leases
4. Neighbour below my flat (46) is not willing to give permission as he thinks it will affect value of his flat
5. I don’t own the entire freehold

To address these concerns I have had a meeting with the Freehold directors as well as managing agents and I gave them presentation as follows. It also included professionally drawn building plans. I have also informed the freeholders on each step of the process as required by planning application process.

1. Noise Pollution : work will be carried out only during normal working hours
2. Proof of sound Structure : I already have planning permission and I have structural engineer in place who can give his calculations and based on those calculations we can address the query. If it is not sound then there is no question of building the additional storey
3. Variation of all leases : The original building was constructed in 1930’s and Flat 46 & 47 was constructed in 1980’s and has different leases to others. I am ready to pay for legal expenses related to my lease and seeking opinion if all the leases needed to be changed. If that is the case it will be a substantial cost which makes it not worth.
4. Neighbour’s concern : I have called for 2 local estate agents to give their professional advice on concern raised and they both confirmed in writing that the value of the flat below will have no effect due to my extension.
5. I don’t hold the entire freehold.
In addition to this I have informed the directors that I will be doing all the due diligence in this process i.e.
Insuring the work
Engaging professional builder with right insurance
I am ready to pay additional service charge due to additional space

In the alteration clause of the lease it states that I need to get a consent from the freeholder for any work proposed (submitting drawing and plans) and the freeholder can’t withhold their consent unreasonably.
I would like to know if the reasons given by freeholder are considered as reasonable or they are unreasonable and there is a case to proceed if I take the legal route.
I have already spent few thousands for planning permission and building plans etc and would like to know if it is worth going to a solicitor to seek advice.
Anyone has come across similar situation or have knowledge of the same, need help.

Many thanks

Salil



Comments

terry sullivan

12:25 PM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

you may need to go to court if you cannot resolve by negotiation--try "Lease" they may have some info eg comparables

reasonable is typical legalese to generate more work for lawyers! totally meaningless--i think your proposal eminently reasonable

terry sullivan

12:26 PM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

another thought--buy downstairs property?

Puzzler

10:55 AM, 17th December 2016
About 2 years ago

The freeholder will also own the fabric of the extension and ultimately be responsible for the new communal items such as building insurance and the new roof so your contribution to the service charge may change. You need specialist advice and maybe to consider offering the freeholder an incentive. It's a pity you didn't check with them beforehand. All the leases will need to be changed to include the new plans and responsibilities if nothing else and this will be quite costly.

Fraser Maldoom

11:52 AM, 17th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Have you checked whether the existing roof and the air space above it is included within your lease?

Steve Hards

12:40 PM, 17th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Salil, you say that "In the alteration clause of the lease it states that I need to get a consent from the freeholder for any work proposed (submitting drawing and plans) and the freeholder can’t withhold their consent unreasonably."

This will only apply to the property you lease, not the roof space above your flat unless, as Fraser Maldoom asks, it is included in your lease. If it is not, as Puzzler said, expanding your flat by extending into the roof has knock-on implications for all the other leases, the ground rent and maintenance charge payable and ownership of the new fabric of the building for which you will be paying.

Extending a leasehold property is not like extending a freehold one. It's a pity you have gone so far down this path and incurring the expenditure before you resolved all those issues with the freeholder first.

Nick Pope

16:50 PM, 17th December 2016
About 2 years ago

You mention that you have a flat roof and presumably no roof structure above and consequently you will not have any rights over the space above your flat. It is also likely that the roof structure above the upper surface of the ceilngs within in the flat forms part of the freehold as well so you have no rights over that either. In this scenario it is not a matter of them unreasonably witholding consent as you would be violating their leasehold rights and via them those of the freeholder company. They can choose not to consent for any reason or no reason at all. I think that just one objector could stop the whole scheme.
The fact that you have the planning is interesting - did you serve the appropriate notices on adjoining owners and the freeholder (which is a separate legal entity to the leaseholders)? If you did not, then the planning may not be valid anyway.
I'm guessing that the other owners feel that you will be making a profit and that you should pay something for the opportunity. Perhaps an offer to contribute a capital sum to the management company so that all occupiers will benefit and also to pay for legal costs.
On the basis of the above I doubt that the extension will be viable and you should take valuation advice yourself to see how much the work would increase the value of the flat.

Puzzler

10:53 AM, 25th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Nick Pope's comment about planning is interesting. The authority will have written to all your neighbours whether you did or not. Therefore it is surprising it was passed, but maybe there is a high proportion of let property, as they write to the property address not the owner. You can look for comments on the council's website. Basically your plan is to alter something which does not belong to you. The only way forward would be to collaborate with the freeholder and neighbours so that everyone benefits proportionately.


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