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Ask ClaireD Your Own Question
ClaireD, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3090
Experience:  I am a specialist property lawyer dealing in all aspects of residential and commercial property with 14 years experience
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We want to buy a flat that has the freehold of a block of 3

Customer Question

We want to buy a flat that has the freehold of a block of 3 flats. The flat's present owner is absent but I am in communication with her (her flat is empty) and she has had no input in recent years to the upkeep of the block as a whole. The top floor flat has build a balcony which covers a path and blocks some steps to this ladies flat. They got retrospective planning permission for the decking but not the freeholders permission. The freeholder objected to planning (the top floor flat were aware of her objections) but that is all as she is elderly and infirm and didn't want a fight. If we buy the flat and become the freeholder could we make the top floor flat take the decking down (they are lease holders) or would they be allowed to keep it even though it inconveniences the flat we want to buy i.e. can't access steps out onto road now.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  ClaireD replied 3 years ago.
ClaireD :

You can bring enforcement action against these leaseholders as a breach of the lease covenants as they undertook alterations without consent. Once you own the property, then you would need to write to them first and request that they remove it and if they fail to do so, you can enforce it in the court.

JACUSTOMER-kqoq87us- :

Is it only the freeholder that could enforce this action?

JACUSTOMER-kqoq87us- :

If the current freeholder did not write specifically to the person in breach of lease to ask for removal, is there a time limit on getting them to take it down? or does a breach in a lease covenant have no time limit?

ClaireD :

It would depend on the lease, but usually only the freeholder can enforce the covenants. Other flat owners may be able to do, but usually this is through the freeholder. There is a time limit of around 20 years, but if it continues with the freeholder's knowledge this could be deemed acceptance.