Cost of Consent- Landlord Window Replacement Fee

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    Cost of Consent- Landlord Window Replacement Fee

    Hello all!

    I would love some help with an issue with our freeholder. I bought a flat roughly 2 years ago, and the windows are already completely rotten and don’t shut properly meaning we have water ingress and all sorts of other problems.

    We contacted Zenith (FENSA approved) who are replacing the windows and a balcony door with PVC material, but otherwise like-for-like and assumed all would be fine. However they mentioned that we would need to get permission from the freeholders to proceed. But, when I contacted the freeholders, they insist that I have to pay them a fee of £350 (!!) for approval.

    On advice, I’ve checked the lease and as far as I can tell, it seems that I’m responsible for the glass and they’re responsible for the (rotten) external frames. (I’ve attached what it says on the lease below- please let me know if I haven’t interpreted it correctly!)
    • THE Tenants HEREBY JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY COVENANT with the Landlord and with and for the benefit of the Flat Owners that throughout the term the Tenants will —> Repair maintain renew (where beyond economic repair) uphold and keep the Demised Premises and all parts thereof including so far as the same form part of or are within the Demised Premises all windows glass and doors (including the entrance door to the demised premises) locks fastenings and hinges sanitary water gas and electrical apparatus and walls and ceilings drains pipes wires and cables and all fixtures and additions thereto in good and substantial repair and condition save as to damage in respect of which either Landlord is liable by statute or where the Landlord is entitled to claim under any policy of insurance maintained by the Landlord in accordance with its covenant in that behalf hereinafter contained except in so far as such policy may have been violated by the act or default of the Tenants or any person claiming through the Tenants or their servants agents licensees or visitors
    • ALL THAT Apartment on the Fourth Floor of the Building shown edged red on the Plan annexed hereto all of which said premises are intended to be known as Apartment 4 and so that the same shall include the following:- (etc. etc.) But exclude’- all external decorative surfaces of the building, external door frames, external window frames and common parts

    So from this I guess I could demand that the freeholders pay for the new windows? However, we’ve already agreed to go ahead with the windows and I’m worried that if we cancel now there will be a huge cost anyway. Also, I don’t want the freeholders to just replace the windows with the softwood, barely double-glazed windows we have now, which is costing me countless amounts in lost electricity bills etc., future damage from the water ingress, and since we’re on a busy road and near a hospital, it’s extremely noisy.


    So I’m happy to pay for the window replacement myself, but I really don’t see why I should pay £350 to the freeholders for essentially signing a piece of paper (when they’re saving on money too if I could demand that they do it). Moreover, when I’ve asked around, the standard fee seems to be between £25-50!! A huge difference to £350.

    I’ve asked the freehold management agency to give me a price breakdown of that £350, they simply replied that there is no price breakdown, it’s just the standard fee. Surely they can only charge me a fee that covers their reasonable expenses? How does signing a piece of paper cost £350?

    Please let me know if you have any advice! I’m a complete novice in this area and really don’t know how to proceed from here. This is just one of the huge number of times where our freeholders are charging excessive and extortionate fees, so I’m finally putting my foot down and would appreciate any help!

    Thanks so much- Hannah.

    #2
    Lawyers didn't use commas in legal documents, so you are actually responsible for the the wood as well as the glass.

    £350 is excessive and you probably have one of the notorious freeholders (who must not be named here) who buy out freeholds and make money from consent fees. You need to carefully read, and probably quote here, any clause regarding consents and fees.

    If you are changing to to uPVC, you can expect to pay this amount of money to the council, as flats do not have permitted development rights and uPVC for wood is not like for like, so requires full planning permission. Councils vary on their policy on this, so ask your council.

    Be aware that the softwood frames are likely to have been leaky, and replacing them with uPVC or aluminium is likely to produce condensation or mould if you do not pay attention to ventilation, including opening windows at appropriate times.

    Comment


      #3
      You have an obligation to repair and renew windows and doors. You do not need cosent to comply with an obligation whatever else the lease says.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
        You have an obligation to repair and renew windows and doors. You do not need cosent to comply with an obligation whatever else the lease says.
        The OP is proposing an "improvement", not just a repair or renewal. If it were a case of replacing wooden single glazed with wooden double glazed, I would say it was an incidental improvement, but this is replacing wood by uPVC, which many councils will treat as significant for planning (in fact, I've seen some historic cases were my council has refused uPVC on wider environmental grounds. They no longer do that, and hardly any of the flats in my development bothered with consent, so it didn't hit them a the time.

        Comment


          #5
          I take the view that a renewal involving an upgrade complying with current standards is allowed. there are going to grey areas. However...

          In this case I find I have not followed my usual practice of reading the original post carefully. The tenant is obliged to repair etc "the Demised Premises and all parts thereof including so far as the same form part of or are within the Demised Premises all windows glass and doors (including the entrance door to the demised premises) ". The definition of the flat excludes "all external decorative surfaces of the building, external door frames, external window frames and common parts". Since the external window and door frames are excluded the tenant is not unde an obligation to repair them.

          If the lease is properly drafted it will provide for the landlord or any mangement company to repair the excluded parts with the cost being recovered through the service charge. Perhaps the OP can let us know what repairing obligations are imposed on the landlord.

          Comment


            #6
            The Building Regs require all replacement windows to be double glazed. Local planners will probably require replacement frames to be of a similar appearance but not necessarily same material. Be careful in conservation areas or listed buildings as the requirements may differ.

            Comment


              #7
              Wow thank you all SO much for your help- you have no idea how much I appreciate it. I didn’t get an email saying anyone had responded so I didn’t see your replies!!




              And yes... It would seem they are one of those notorious freeholders!! Thanks so much for the information r.e. Ventilation too- I will be sure to check that out.




              I will call the council tomorrow and ask about the costs of changing to PVC. I had no idea that that was even a thing!! I think I remember Zenith saying those costs would be included in the price, but I could be wrong and I’d definitely like to know first.




              It’s not a listed building, but I’ll double check as to whether it’s in a conservation area, although I haven’t seen anything to suggest it is in one so far.




              I’ll also attach all fees/consent stuff from the lease in a separate post.




              I’m slightly confused about the whose responsibility it is.... from your comments, am I right to assume that I need to call the council to find out their view on changing the materials to uPVC, and depending on that I’ll know if it’s considered a repair/renewal or improvement?




              If they view it as a repair/renewal, then from your comments, does that mean I don’t need the permission of the landlords??




              Or do I still need their permission for the external frames? If I need their permission for the external frames, then I guess I’ll probably have to pay a service charge? Does this charge have to be reasonable, or can they essentially charge what they like?




              Thank you so so so much for your help- I really appreciate it!






              Comment


                #8
                The council don't decide if it is a repair or renewal.

                What they are concerned about, mainly, is the appearance. Going form uPVC to wood would also trigger a need for planning consent.

                However, some councils might not bother insisting on planning consent for flat windows, even though, strictly speaking, it is needed.

                Comment

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