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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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I have a share of freehold with four other flats and its a

Customer Question

I have a share of freehold with four other flats and its a nightmare to get them to agree anything. I live on the top floor and after a fire scare decided to build a fire exit which opens onto the flat roof of the flat below.
I had to knock a door from my kitchen and erect rails on the flat roof below.
I didnt get permission from my fellow directors as they never agree to anything but my life was at risk if there was a fire.
I had planning permission and building control certificate.The flat roof may have been an unofficial roof terrace since 2003 based on an email I saw from previous owner.

Can they force me to take down the fire exit ?
I thought as landlords there was an legal obligation to provide a fire exit ?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  wingrovebuyer replied 4 years ago.

wingrovebuyer : Hello. I'm afraid that unless your lease allows structural alterations, the works will be a breach of the lease which is not overridden by current building regulations relating to fire escapes. When the flats were built or converted, such a fire escape was not then required, and so unfortunately there's no rule saying they have to accept it now. Is your lease to hand?
JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

So they can enforce I dont have a fire exit and brick it up.Would it have to go to court and a jury decide its worth putting someones life at risk ?

JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- : Yes I can get hold of lease. It's in front of me.
wingrovebuyer : Thanks. Check the lease first - there's probably a section on alterations. Structural alterations will either be prohibited, or allowed with consent. The consent may be stated to be "not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed". Does it say anything like his please?
wingrovebuyer : If it prohibits alterations totally, then I'm afraid that you will either need to get then to waive their right to enforce the terms of the lease, or you will be obliged to undo the works, even if this means the loss of a safety feature. If consent is required, you could ask for this retrospectively. If they refuse, it is as above. But if they don't respond or if they give consent, then you could leave things as they are.
wingrovebuyer : I'm signing off now, bu happy to pick up again tomorrow evening. Hope that's ok.
JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

Does it matter how long ago I built it ? Its been there for almost 7 years.

wingrovebuyer : There's perhaps an argument that the other freeholders have waived their right to complain, but that usually applies after a period more like 20 years. However, you could build up this argument to make them back down. They are unlikely to go to see a solicitor over it, so will probably accept it if you say the breach has been waived.
JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

They are quite litigious so would seek legal advice. How would I find out if the established access as a fire exit is ok after 7 years.

JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

Ps one of them built a roof terrace on the top of a kitchen of the ground floor flat. he owns the ground floor flat also but does he need the management companies permission in order to do so.I know he didnt inform building control or planning cause I checked the website and he never applied

wingrovebuyer : Hello. As I said, it is an argument but 7 years wouldn't really be enough. 20 or 25 years is usually needed as a sign of waiver. The neighbour should also have required consent if what he did involves any part of the building his lease or if he made structural changes.
JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

Ps Im really happy with your advice so will pay more than the £22.00 I had to deposit

JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

So even if he owns the flat below which he built his roof terrace he would still need management company permission to do so ?

wingrovebuyer : Thanks. Yes, but it will depend on whether or not the roof is within his lease. I doubt it will be, nor will the space above. Accordingly, it's likely the roof terrace is also a breach of the lease and you could use that to force his hand!
JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

Is there anyway I can send you copy of lease so you could see if he has the right to do what he did with regard to management company permission. I know he doesnt have planning or building control

JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

the planning permission for the kitchen he built on can be found on the council website but its really dubious whether it was granted.Im sure you would understand

wingrovebuyer : You can upload scans or images of pages, but I'm afraid I wouldn't know how you do that - I just get sent the questions and we have no technical input. I suspect you just need to check the lease for clauses relating to alterations and it should be clear if consent is needed.
wingrovebuyer : Customer services can advise regarding uploads.
JACUSTOMER-8af1ub8g- :

ok...i will check with site admin how I can send you something private.

wingrovebuyer : Great - thanks.