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Ask wingrovebuyer Your Own Question
wingrovebuyer, Senior Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 737
Experience:  Bachelor of Laws (Honours); PG Diploma in Law; Member of ALA; 9 years' experience
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We own leasehold property with 120 years remaining. We own

Customer Question

We own leasehold property with 120 years remaining. We own stable block of old house with freeholder owning main house with 2 flats above. We have requested a certificate to install a 5mx4m garden/study office in our garden which has a height of 2.4m. We understand that is permissible under current planning laws but this has been refused by the freeholder on the grounds that it is a home office and also he does not like the size and design. My questions are;

The lease states that permission cannot be unreasonably withheld and this seems unreasonable.

The proposed building is located some 50m from main house and is obscured by a large tree and mature hedge.

The area of the proposed building is no more than 3% of our current garden.

It seems to us that the freeholder just does not want us to have this building but we want to know if they can stop us?

Can they refuse on basis of size and design?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  wingrovebuyer replied 4 years ago.

wingrovebuyer : Hello. Is the only condition in the lease a rextrication that consent is needed, and this can't be unreasonably withheld or delayed?
wingrovebuyer : Restriction - sorry, iPad autocorrect!
JACUSTOMER-d2fyiwut- : Our lease states
wingrovebuyer : Sorry, your message didn't come through in full.
JACUSTOMER-d2fyiwut- :

Our lease only states that we must ask permission from freeholder in writing to erect shed swimming pool or conservatory in the garden and that permission should not be unreasonably withheld

wingrovebuyer : Ok, thanks. This issue here is one of a view of what is "reasonable". The common law states a number of principles the court would consider in deciding whether or not consent was being unreasonab,y withheld. These are:-
wingrovebuyer : 1. It is for you to show the landlord is being unreasonable, an not for him to show he is being reasonable
wingrovebuyer : 2. What is reasonable will depend on the specific facts of each case.
wingrovebuyer : 3. A refusal for consent does not have to be right or justified, it just has to be based on reasonable grounds, in the circumstances.
wingrovebuyer : 4. The landlord is not obliged to have regard to your circumstances.
wingrovebuyer : 5. If you would suffer a disproportionate detriment by the refusal of consent, then that would be unreasonable.
wingrovebuyer : So, what does this mean for you? Well, if you feel the refusal is unreasonable, you can either sue the landlord to get the court to force him to consent, or you could just go ahead and erect the office, and see how the landlord reacts. The problem with both is cost, and in the latter you may end up removing an expensive new building and losing that money too.
wingrovebuyer : My view would be for you to continue discussions with the landlord, providing as much information as possible and being as friendly as possible, so as to highlight his unreasonableness if he continues to withhold consent. You could then take legal action against him for breach of th leases arguing he is being unreasonable. However, as each case turns on its own facts, I couldnt guarantee success for you - court action would be very costly (easily £15,000 - £25,000 plus) and so you may consider offering a cash payment to "buy" consent, but some people don't like that as a matter of principle. However, it may tip the balance and get you the consent you need.