Breach of the Lease due to alterations carried out before 1992 when I became owner.

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    Breach of the Lease due to alterations carried out before 1992 when I became owner.

    After chasing the managing agents for the last 3 months to find out why we hadn't been sent our service charge I was finally told..
    The above flat is in breach of the lease, so we cannot provide any statements and advise what is currently outstanding. The breach is because of unauthorised alterations: 1. Dividing wall between the kitchen and Living room was removed to create a ‘serving hatch’.. 2. Secondary glazing fitted to the windows and door opening to the balcony

    These were alterations that were there when we bought the flat in 1992.

    The came to light because whenever you want to assign a new owner the flat has to be inspected.

    I therefore assume it was inspected when we bought it, so I assume the changes must have been sanctioned.


    What is the chance I will lose the flat, and what is the best way to resolve this?

    I'm sort of at a loss what to do.

    thanks
    Steve



    #2
    The chance of losing the flat are almost nil. The chances of having to pay to restore it to the previous state are very low. There is going to be a significant chance that you will have to pay for a surveyor to check the work and for building control inspections (which may involve opening up the work).

    If you can show that the freeholder must have been aware of the changes before they last accepted or demanded ground rent or service charges, they will have waived the breach.

    They will need to take you to the FTT for a ruling that there has been a breach. Even if they get that, you will be able to apply for dispensation from forfeiture, and that will almost always be given if you are prepared to cooperate.

    Objecting to secondary glazing is really going over the top, and surely that is visible from outside?

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      #3
      Building control is only relevant if they failed to get that originally.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for the replies

        Also forgot want to mention that I extended the lease around 1996 and the flat was inspected as part of that process.

        BTW the secondary glazing is the sort that is screwed to the wall opening on the inside of the window, and was probably added because the flat is right next to a railway line and at the time the flat had old draughty metal windows.

        The issue at the moment is until the breach of the Lease is resolved they won't issue me with a service charge, and trying to resolve this is difficult as I'm having difficulty working out who to talk to. The landlords are LKB Investments Ltd, their solicitors are 'freshwater' and their property is by Highdorn not to be confused with Rendal and Ritner which are the Managing Agents.

        BTW I only found out about this because the Managing Agents finally told me after 3 months of me asking them why I hadn't got a service charge bill.

        Also is there any way to find out if the previous owners were inspected by building control?

        Comment


          #5
          Please delete the name of the landlord. If it is too late to edit, please flag it for a moderator to do that.

          As indicated, in another thread, the lease extension wiped the slate clean, even if they didn't inspect at that time. Can you prove the changes existed at that time?

          Many councils have online records for recent building control, but 1992 may require a trip to their offices.

          There isn't much point in not talking to you unless they actually tell you how to resolve the breach or apply ot the FTT for a ruling that there is a breach and then issue a forfeiture notice, which can be defended. I'm not sure if the lessee can start the FTT process for confirming a breach.

          If you have fixed draughty windows, you will almost certainly have condensation problem.

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            #6
            Sorry about that... I've flagged the post for the moderator to delete the landlords name.
            What I find strange is that I only found out about it because I spent the last 3 months asking the managing agents where my service charge bill was, and today the new person they had in-charge of our property found out and told me within an hour.
            There is a chance that they may have informed the solicitors I was using to transfer ownership in which case it would have been nice if the solicitors had passed on the information.
            Proving when the changes took place may be hard, I will have to see if I can find the original estate agents description, I may have some photos but dating those may be difficult. hmm.
            thanks again for the replies.

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              #7
              Had a similar issue, and found a good description on a 9 year old EPC, maybe you have one?

              See they are not a complete waste of time

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                #8
                As mentioned, if a new lease was granted after the alterations were carried out any breach was wiped out. The old lease is a dead letter as it was replaced by the new lease and the new lease is a lease of the premises as altered. In any event, if the alterations were carried out more than 12 years ago no action can be taken.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks for all the answers. Regarding dating the alterations.

                  No EPC but I did find the original Estate Agent flyer which states under

                  Reception 'Secondary double glazed windows'
                  kitchen 'Large Breakfast bar area open to lounge'

                  dating it is a bit off though as it says 48 years left on lease, which would have dated it as 1986 and not 1992 ..that should have said 42 years..
                  I do also have some baby photos of our daughter which could help date it.

                  Also the on the questionnaire the previous owner stated they had done no structural alterations, so either it was done by the leaseholder before them or they lied. Someone had to insert a massive steal beam above the opening so its not something they would have forgotten doing.

                  My main issue at the moment is trying to find someone to talk to, preferably, initially without a lawyer, just to see if they can listen to reason. In previous communications all they ever say is get your lawyer to contact our lawyer.. I don't have a lawyer.

                  And also why did no one tell me I was in breach of the lease. The inspection which resulted in this was carried out on 9th January and I only found out because I was chasing them on not sending me a bill for my service charge.

                  I'm worried I'm going to suddenly find the door has been broken down and the locks have been changed. Do I have to be informed before they can do that? At present the flat is empty while I'm sorting out getting it redecorated etc.



                  Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                  In any event, if the alterations were carried out more than 12 years ago no action can be taken.
                  Can you tell me where I can find information on this, the more ammo I have the better.

                  thanks again

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by Stevedh View Post
                    Can you tell me where I can find information on this, the more ammo I have the better.
                    Section 8 of the Limitation Act 1980 which says:

                    An action upon a specialty shall not be brought after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.

                    A deed is a specialty and a lease is a deed,

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I would concentrate on the highlighted part of Lawcruncher's post IIWY.

                      Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                      As mentioned, if a new lease was granted after the alterations were carried out any breach was wiped out. The old lease is a dead letter as it was replaced by the new lease and the new lease is a lease of the premises as altered. In any event, if the alterations were carried out more than 12 years ago no action can be taken.
                      The freeholder has seen your alterations and given you a new lease of the flat with those alterations. They can't come & object years later.

                      It sounds to me like there is some other conflict going on, and this is just an excuse?
                      To save them chiming in, JPKeates, Theartfullodger, Boletus, Mindthegap, Macromia, Holy Cow & Ted.E.Bear think the opposite of me on almost every subject.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by JK0 View Post
                        I would concentrate on the highlighted part of Lawcruncher's post IIWY.



                        The freeholder has seen your alterations and given you a new lease of the flat with those alterations. They can't come & object years later.

                        It sounds to me like there is some other conflict going on, and this is just an excuse?
                        I think (hope) they are just a very big company and the various parts don't properly talk to each other.

                        Anyway got a reply from one of the many emails I sent yesterday.

                        'I note what you say and I wrote to you yesterday regarding this.'

                        I'm assuming it was in a letter as I didn't get any email yesterday, so I await with bated breath to see what they have to say.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Stevedh View Post
                          I think (hope) they are just a very big company and the various parts don't properly talk to each other.
                          Some of these big companies carry out inspections and as soon as they see evidence of any alterations demand the tenant applies for retrospective consent - which may involve excessive fees. If that turns out to be the case here there should be no problem seeing them off.

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                            #14

                            The previous labour government made replacing singe glazing by double glazing a legal requirement , to reduce CO2 emissions for meeting EU targets .
                            So its non-sense to claim double glazing is a breach of your lease. I am sure the words "double glazing" is not mentioned in your lease. If the managing agent thinks double glazing is a breach of the lease, they are not fit be handling your service charge account .

                            Comment


                              #15
                              The double glazing that has to be used by law is primary double glazing (sealed units). The OP is describing secondary glazing.

                              Comment

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