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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I have just discovered a large basement underneath my flat.

Resolved Question:

I have just discovered a large basement underneath my flat. My flat is leasehold but I am one of three people who own the freehold of the house.
I am considering restoring the basement but
1) How do I find who owns it and if it is even mentioned on the freehold?
2) If it is not on the freehold what do I do?
3) If I approach the other freeholders and ask them for the basement is to be considered part of my property what do I need to get them to do. (basically if they refuse I will just refill in the basement and nail down the floorboards!!!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I confirm that you have checked your lease to confirm whether it is included in your demise with your flat please?

Customer:

It is not mentioned in the lease.

Joshua :

Thanks. If the demise of your flat does not include a basement then your conclusion that it is not included in your leasehold demise with your flat is correct. However it will be part of the freehold unless it is specifically excluded on the freehold title which is doubtful. A freehold includes all the land below the building including any basement unless specifically excluded which is comparatively rare.

Joshua :

Are you the only ground floor flat and could the basement be accessed in any other way than by through your flat to your knowledge?

Customer:

I am not the only ground floor flat; however, there appears to be a structural wall across the basement which coincides with my property boundary which means the restored area would only be under my flat and would have no other means of access. (The entire basement is currently full of rubble)

Joshua :

Thanks. Are you in London or another city?

Customer:

Brighton

Joshua :

Thanks. the first step is to obtain a copy of the freehold title from the land registry (link to follow below) which will cost 3 pounds and check the property register for any mention of the basement being excluded from the freehold title. Based on what you say, it would be unusual to expect to see such an exclusion but it is sensible to confirm for the avoidance of any doubt. Once you have confirmed that the basement is not excluded from the freehold title, the next step is to look to add the basement to your demise under your lease...

Joshua :

https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry

Joshua :

if your existing lease does not include the basement which is the case from what you say then you would need to approach your joint freeholders for agreement in order that you add the basement to your lease. Your joint freeholders may be content to simply agree that you add the basement to your lease or it may be that they were one payment of some kind. If the latter, it is a question of negotiation between you and them as to the level of premium payable. There are various ways this can be calculated, such as by reference to they're taking a share of the percentage increase in value of your property or by a fixed sum if the basement can be independently marketed (this seems unlikely from what you say) or simply a fixed price you agree. it is worth keeping in mind that the basement is probably of little value other than to you and submit your joint freeholders appear greedy, you could consider pointing out that if you don't purchase it, they cannot sell to anyone else - in other words it is something or nothing.

Customer:

I assume that involves me asking the other freeholders to sign a deed of variation?

Joshua :

even if you add the basement to your flat, you will need to also consider that your lease probably prohibits any structural alteration to your property without consent of the freeholder which means you will likely need a second approach to your joint freeholders in order to obtain permission to convert the basement though providing your lease contains a provision not to alter without consent as opposed to an absolute prohibition and alterations, your joint freeholders cannot unreasonably withhold consent nor make a profit of granting consent to alter.

Joshua :

In order to add the basement to your lease, you would need to approach a local solicitor to prepare a supplemental lease or alternatively the same result can be achieved using a deed of variation as he referred to. If you have a mortgage, you will also need to obtain consent from your lender lender is typically not adverse to agreeing to something which will add value to your property

Joshua :

Obviously you will need to research costs for conversion of the basement as well as basement conversions can be costly and outside of prime property areas, the cost can outweigh the increase in value though certainly some parts of Brighton I would imagine could achieve a net profit though of coure this is not a legal issue.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Thank you, ***** ***** approach the other freeholders but I would not be prepared to offer to pay them anything as restoring the basement (or not) is neither beneficial or detrimental to them. If they decline I will just replace the rubble I have removed and forget the whole thing.

Customer:

Thank you for your answer

Joshua :

A pleasure. I hope they are open to your proposals.

Joshua :

If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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