unreasonable conditions for Licence to alter

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    unreasonable conditions for Licence to alter

    We own a leasehold flat. We want to do full refub that includes move staircase to a new location and opening new window to our terrace (duplex apartment top floor)We have submitted application for licence to alter and our freeholder came up with conditions:

    1. 5000£ premium
    2. Increase of ground rent 3 times (from 125 to 450) and then incremental increase every ten years (by 350£)
    3. legal fees of 1200£
    4. Everything paid upfront irrespective of wether works completed or not.

    When challenged about all of those requirements their response was that because the lease says "Not to cut maim or injure nor to make any breach in any part of the structure of the Property" and relocation of stairs and windows will fall under this category and they do not have to be reasonable as this makes them exempt of the Landlords and tenants act 1925. Ho ever the same clause goes on to say:

    "Not to cut maim or injure nor to make any breach in any part of the structure of the Property nor without the previous cansent in writing of the Landlord or its agents to make any alteration whatsoever to the plan design or elevation of the Property nor to make any openings therein nor to open up any .floorit-walls or ceilings for the purpose of altering or renewing any pipes wires ducts or conduits nor to alter any of the .Landlord's fixtures fittings or appliances therein "

    My view is that windows are change to elevation of the property and stairs are change to the plan. (designs are made they avoid injuring or cutting through primary structure of the building)

    What would be your thoughts and is there any other legislation I could look at to prevent freeholder in bullying us to increase ground rent.

    The lease trumps any other right you think you may have.
    The structure of the building belongs to the freeholder, and you have it on a long (125 year?) lease.

    So, taking the external wall out to construct a new window does amount to breaching the structure; changing the stairs will entail altering the joists supporting the ceiling/floor of the building, so that is also an alteration to the structure.

    How does the freeholder know what you are proposing to do, unless he sees the full plans, and gets an OK from a chartered surveyor or a structural engineer, and possibly an electrician? Employing any of these will cost the freeholder money.

    The freeholder will also have to change the lease plan to show the new window, and possibly the stairs: this will need a solicitor to incorporate the plan in your lease and register it with HMLR, and will also cost money.

    So, those four items are not unreasonable, but you could dispute the sums involved. Doubt if you would get anywhere with that, though.

    Please confirm that you have been granted Planning Permission as there is No Permitted Development right for alterations to flats.

    Please also confirm also that you have consulted or will consult the Council's Building Control section with your plans.

    Without the OK from both of these, your freeholder is bound to deny your request.


      The building belongs to the freeholder. Why do you want to alter the property belonging to somebodyelse ?

      You should look for ways to buy the freehold title .

      Don't think about changing the ground rent to one doubling every 10 years . Read the Guardian newspaper 25/26 July about the problem with leasehold houses.


        There are two surveys collecting information at the moment on Leasehold to present to a Parliamentary Reform review in the autumn.

        Please complete the survey on this board if your property was built in the last 12 years and also please email Which? with your experiences.

        Information about all our experiences as leaseholders will be invaluable to the government review on Leasehold practice.


          Originally posted by Gordon999 View Post
          Don't think about changing the ground rent to one doubling every 10 years . Read the Guardian newspaper 25/26 July about the problem with leasehold houses.

          That was not what was being proposed here. It goes up by 78% after ten years, 43% of the new figure, after 20 years, 30% after 30 years, not by 100% every ten years.

          The only problem is that this arrangement seems sufficiently strange that the OP may not have understood it properly.


            The simple answer is your freeholder can charge what he wants for you changing his building.

            You may be better off selling up and buying a real freehold property where you can do what you want within the limits of planning permission and building regulations approvals.


              Thank for your comments they are really useful!

              We really like the flat and with a bit of work it would have been fab!

              We have employed charted surveyor (freeholder appointed one and we are paying them separately), architect, structural engeneer for assessment of works and planning application and building control are all in place as well s contracts with all professionals, specified levels of insurance and collateral warranties executed as deeds for freeholder and management company as beneficiaries.

              The report from structural engineer is that stairs relocation does not affect the structure of the building as it is proposed to be in-between structural beams.

              Also the lease document is written for 1 floor apartment and when we purchased they have changed to 2 floor apartment as deed of variation. The lease plan contains only the external boundaries of apartment therefore there will be no change required.

              Thank you for opinions . I definitely can't get away with window so I think I will have to leave them out. But given the report of structural engeneer that stairs relocation will not affect the structure of the building I have grounds of arguing that these are changes to plan rather than structure and therefore the act will apply.

              And I will fill in the surveys suggested


                "We want to do full refurb that includes move staircase to a new location and opening new window to our terrace (duplex apartment top floor). We have submitted application for licence to alter..."

                What you have been offered is not a licence to alter but an opportunistic new lease with onerous terms. Once your ground rent is over £250 you are in a unique vulnerable situation. Read this thread, especially posts #4 and #13...


                Come extension time all those GR increments come back to haunt you or a buyer. It doesn't need a maths scholar to add up the increments.

                Please ignore any excuse that a leaseholder cannot expect a consent to alter a leasehold because the freeholder 'owns' the building. That is arguing matters from the wrong premise.

                Freeholds are often bought for less than 5% of the combined premises value. If the freeholder 'owns' the whole lot before reversion, I'd like to see them get a loan against their 'asset'.
                They own a reversion interest that grows as times goes by. You meantime own a leasehold title. The real issue isn't a feudal morality play, it's whether you have any rights to a consent.

                That depends on your lease.

                Does it have an absolute prohibition against improvements? This does not prevent you applying for consent but the landlord can impose any conditions he/she wants to waive the prohibition.

                Does it have qualified covenants? A qualified covenant permits something to be done only with landlord’s consent, but says nothing in the lease about the landlord having to act reasonably. I think this is over-ridden by the the 1927 Act, but you would need legal advice.

                Are there fully qualified covenants? A fully qualified covenant is one which allows something to be done only with landlord’s consent. If the lease says "not without prior or previous consent" to cut or maim etc... then the 1927 Act applies. (Your landlord does not seem to know the Act isn't 1925).

                I would google the subject and hopefully find less feudalistic legal articles.
                Do not read my offerings, based purely on my research or experience as a lessee, as legal advice. If you need legal advice please see a solicitor.


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