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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9348
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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We are considering buying a leasehold flat. The flat has an

Customer Question

We are considering buying a leasehold flat. The flat has an unusually larg, L-shaped garage directly underneath it. When the vendor put it on the market, it was to be included fully in the sale (with the agents suggesting it could make a basement extension in future, subject to planning). Now, however, the vendor has changed his mind and wants to sell off the 'extra' bit of the garage to the flat block's management company (which appears to own the freehold), of which he happens to be a director, to create a store room.We have no particular problem with this, but converting this bit of the garage will require planning permission. The vendor has spoken to a planning advisor, but not yet submitted an application, so all we have been told is roughly where the garage would be divided.We very much want to make an offer on the property, but are also concerned about the delay all this will cause, ie up to 8 weeks for permission, and then the work needs to be done to divide the garage etc. More generally, can we actually make an offer on a property where work is expected to be done on it, but hasn't been done yet, so we can't see it? I would like to understand the legal position. We would really like to complete quickly (assuming our offer is accepted), but this feels like a grey area which would hold things up. (We're not particularly bothered about having that extra garage area for ourselves one way or the other.) Any advice appreciated! Many thanks
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 months ago.

I’m afraid it’s up to you whether you proceed with this or not. You can ask the seller for details of the plans to do the conversion and if the seller doesn’t come up with them or delays letting you have them, you can say that you not prepared to go ahead until you have them. It really depends on how important it is for the seller to secure the sale to you.

There is obviously going to be disruption during the period of the work and although the leaseholder of the other property would be under a duty to minimise that, it is unlikely that there would be no disruption and it’s unlikely that the seller will be able to answer you about the extent of the disruption.

At the moment, the delay in applying for planning permission isn’t going to affect your decision to purchase.

I’ve you go ahead as it is assuming that permission will be granted you go ahead on the same basis and if it doesn’t get granted, then it’s a bonus for you because there is no one living underneath you and no disruption.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please rate the service positive. It is an important part of the process by which experts get paid. It does not cost you anything but helps us greatly.

Best wishes.

FES

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Hello, and thank you. So, in summary, if I've understood correctly, it's basically 'like it or lump it'! But could you clarify one thing for me, please: how does this work with the contract? Until planning permission has actually been granted and the work done, it can't be said to be certain what we are buying - how does that work formally? If planning isn't granted (admittedly unlikely, I think), could it leave the bit the vendor wants to separate in some sort of legal limbo? Or is all this just stuff that would have to be changed in the contract at a late stage before completion? I'm really trying to foresee potential problems and thinks that might either cause delay, or indeed larger legal bills! Thanks again (and I'll definitely leave positive feedback)
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 months ago.

I suppose you could put it like that, yes.

At present, you buy your flat as it is presented. The fact that an adjoining or property above you or below you may be or may not be applying for planning permission is not relevant.

You could have bought the flat without the garage and the person that kept the garage simply decided to apply for planning permission in a couple of months time after you purchase.

If planning granted, it means that the seller may be left with the garage which they can use as a garage.

There may be with access but that was to be sorted out anyway even remaining as a garage

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thanks. Though I think I perhaps haven't made this quite clear - the garage in question belongs to the property for sale. At present, it's unusually large. The vendor (who lives in the flat and would be moving away) wants to sell off part of this garage, to the estate management company, but needs planning permission to create access to that bit; the rest of it, i.e. of normal garage size, is what he wants to sell with the flat. There is no 'adjoining property' involved in this as the garage belongs to the flat for sale - the issue (for me) is about what is exactly up for sale as the vendor can't know what will happen to the garage until planning permission has been granted. Or am I just worrying too much? I suppose if he didn't get planning, he'd be obliged to sell the whole, larger garage as it is? He doesn't intend to keep any of the property, flat or garage, himself.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 months ago.

I suppose you could put it like that, yes.

At present, you buy your flat as it is presented. The fact that an adjoining or property above you or below you may be or may not be applying for planning permission is not relevant.

You could have bought the flat without the garage and the person that kept the garage simply decided to apply for planning permission in a couple of months time after you purchase.

If planning granted, it means that the seller may be left with the garage which they can use as a garage.

There may be with access but that was to be sorted out anyway even remaining as a garage

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Er, you appear to have given the exact same answer as above!
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 months ago.

I apologise for that.

He is unlikely to be planning permission to create the access and to make it into a garage accessible separately. He would leave building regulations probably. It could simply be made into a stand-alone garage.

With regard to knowing exactly what’s up for sale, it would simply be a case of studying the changes required on any plans which would be needed to make it a separate piece of property. People routinely by property based upon plans.

It’s up to you until you wait until that actual separation has been done even though, as I have already said, it may end up just being a separate garage not converted to a dwelling.

Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 months ago.

Is there a reason that you have given my reply negative rating? Or was that an error?

F E Smith and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Sorry - that was a mistake - corrected now.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 12 months ago.

Thank you. I appreciate that. Best wishes.