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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 28924
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am one of three freeholders of a small block of

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I am one of three freeholders of a small block of maisonettes. We have been asked by a leaseholder in one of the ground floor properties for consent to build an extension/extra bedroom. Can we deny consent or is it like alterations where we cannot deny consent to anything reasonable?
JA: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?
Customer: No nothing yet
JA: Where is the property located?
Customer: Watford Herts
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I do not think so
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
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May I confirm, with the extension be built on land which is demised to them under the lease exclusively or would it be being built on land which is either communal land for all of the leaseholders too use or alternatively, land which remains part of the freehold is not granted to any specific leaseholder?

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thank you for your reply. We have not been given any details but I am 99% sure that the extension is to be built on land which is demised to the leaseholders exclusively. It will be attached to the freeholders building.

thank you. There will be a provision in the lease almost without question that will say no alterations without the landlord's consent and the provision may go on to say such consent is not to be unreasonably withheld. However, this clause applies in so far as the client to make alterations internally within their flat. Building an extension goes much further than this will involve cutting into and probably cutting away from the main structure of the building which belongs to the freeholder and not the leaseholder. As such, this is not covered by any such clause along the lines of the above and where a leaseholder seeks to cut into or cut away the structure of the building which belongs to the freeholder, there is no obligation on the landlord to consent.

Ass such, the landlord can either simply refuse permission unreasonably or not or more commonly, can consent to permission but demand a premium for doing so. There is no specific amounts that can or cannot be charged in relation to a premium remembering that of course the landlord is under no obligation in respect of granting consent for works that involve cutting away the structure of the building which they own but it is common for negotiations to begin on the basis of 50% of the increase in value to the leaseholder's property that is not to suggest that that is where negotiations end up necessarily. Typically, a landlord in such circumstances would appoint a surveyor at the leaseholder's cost to negotiate on the point for them.

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Thank you. I am not so sure that the freeholders building will be cut into or cut away. There is an extension on another ground floor maisonette in a block adjacent to ours and it certainly appears to me that this extension has not been cut into or cut away the freeholders building but rather the brickwork has just been attached to the freeholders building, with cement of course. We cannot decline consent as we have not seen any plans yet. How does the freeholders deal with this? Do we inform the leaseholders we need to see proper plans before we can make a decision and what constitutes proper plans. Can we also insist that in order for us to consider consent we will need to employ a solicitor and that solicitor will need an undertaking from the leaseholders solcitor to cover his/her's costs and our surveyors costs? Basically, how does it work please and would this be the next step for the freeholders? Thank you ever so much.
Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I think our leaseholders will be copying the extension on the block adjacent, blocks are identical.

it is hard to see from my perspective how an extension can be built without cutting into or cutting away part of the structure of the building. An extension would generally require either removing part of the existing walls or at the very least integrating the new brickwork into the existing structure of the building - one cannot build an extension just by building it next to an existing building without intergrating it to the existing building. you can cause look at the proposed plans and ask questions in this respect and the lease will likely provide that you can appoint a surveyor at the leaseholder's costs in relation to any permission the leaseholder seeks and the surveyor will be able to advise you in more detail in this respect. As above, to the extent thhe leaseholder requires to cut into or cutaway any of the structure of the property, a premium can be demanded on the above basis.

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I am tempted to just decline consent as it is something I do not want to particularly get involved in. On the information I have given would it be safe to do this without any repercussions? If we go ahead and ask to see plans, what are proper plans? Plans drawn by a qualified architect? Can we ask for the leaseholders to pay for our surveyors cost to monitor the extension to completion and approve it or otherwise on completion. One other question regarding the lease, should we insist that it be varied should the extension go ahead and can we insist that the leaseholders pay our solicitors costs to check the deed of variation?

on the basis that the extensioon would involve cutting in two or cutting away from the structure of the building, as above, the freeholders have a right to refuse consent. Joint freeholders must act together and therefore if one of you refuses consent, the others can proceed to grant consent without a unanimous decision. There is no majority vote in the case of joint ownership. It is all or nothing

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Great stuff Joshua, much appreciated! Can you address these ones please?If we go ahead and ask to see plans, what are proper plans? Plans drawn by a qualified architect? Can we ask for the leaseholders to pay for our surveyors cost to monitor the extension to completion and approve it or otherwise on completion. One other question regarding the lease, should we insist that it be varied should the extension go ahead and can we insist that the leaseholders pay our solicitors costs to check the deed of variation?

plans should be prepared by a surveyor more commonly an architect. In respect of what you can charge to the leaseholder, remembering that in the assumption I am correct in my belief that they would not be able to carry out the work without carrying out work to the structure of the property, you do not have to grant consent, it follows that you can demand any conditions you want as a condition for granting consent. this could include any requirements you have in relation to a surveyor

in respect of the lease, If an extension is built, the lease would ideally require a variation both to redraw the plan and also potentially to consider reworking the allocation of service charge proportion between the respective flats as if one flat is subsequently larger than other flats or at least larger than it was before, it follows that it potentially should pay more service charge to reflect the amount of future maintenance that may be required - though this point is entirely up to you all to decide

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I should also mention here that the purpose built block of four maisonettes do not operate like a conventional block of flats. There are two on the ground floor and two on the first floor. There are no service charges. The leaseholders on one half of the building share repairs and maintenance costs 50/50 for "their" half of the building and the same for the leaseholders on the other half. Each leaseholder takes out their own buildings insurance for their maisonette. I know this is defective but have been unable to get the leaseholders to agree to change leases for a block policy and service charge to compenate the freeholders. I mention this as I think it would be necessary to get the extension on the lease to confirm that there is not a 50/50 split for repairs and maintenance but these are the responsibility of the extending leaseholders.

thank you. Unless there are two separate freehold titles (which from what you describe not think is the case) I do not think the above substantively changes what we have discussed above. However as you say, you are correct that this is not a particularly good way to deal with maintenance of the building and may potentially raise questions upon any sale of a flat from an interested buyer

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Customer: replied 10 days ago.
I am itching to give you an excellent rating but I am afraid that, that will close this conversation. Although I am finished for this evening I would like to keep this conversation open. How long can I keep it open for?