Removing Stud Wall in Leasehold Flat

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    Removing Stud Wall in Leasehold Flat

    Hello, I would like to remove a non-load-bearing stud wall in my flat. It will change the layout inasmuch as I will be stealing some of the space from my entrance hall and creating a larger living room as a result. So no real increase in value of the property as a result, just a matter of taste.

    My lease says I am not to "make any alternations to the flat without the approval in writing of the Lessor", so clearly I will have to gain the Freeholder's permission, despite it simply being a non-load-bearing stud wall. My questions are:

    • Even though there will be no increase in value of the property following this work, would the Freeholder be entitled to still ask me for money in exchange for permission?

    • If so, should they be in a position to ask for anything at all given it could not be seen as an 'improvement' in terms of saleable value?

    • If they are insistent on something just for the sake of it, is my only recourse in terms of challenging what's 'reasonable' an expensive tribunal of some sort?

    • My flat is a conversion in a Grade II listed property. Do I need planning permission despite it being simply a non-load-bearing stud wall?

    • And finally, I've recently noticed that the layout of my flat is slightly different to the floorplan attached to the lease. According to the floorplan the living room has a smaller cupboard type of room within it, and the entrance door to the living room was about 6 foot away from where it is now to accommodate this little room. Is that a minor thing or something I need to address? I've been here for 15 years but have only just noticed it given that I've been looking into this entire situation recently.

    Thanks in advance for any advice. :-)

    Sharon

    #2
    Hi, Firstly how do you know its not a load bearing wall? Has a surveyor or structural engineer confirmed this in writing to you ? A listed property change may need consent from the council Conservation officer? You could put a tentative call in to the officer and email him some ideas then if he gives you the go ahead you would need to pay a fee for consent to him and possibly an alteration fee... I have not seen your property and would say I dont think you will need consent of either however best do your homework so that when it comes to selling your property at some point you then have all the right permissions and paperwork in place.

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      #3
      Thank you very much for responding!

      Well, I had 'assumed' that it couldn't possibly be a load-bearing wall, as it is a hollow stud wall, with a panel of glass windows at the top (which was clearly created to bring as much light as possible into the entrance hall), and I know this wall didn't exist until the 1980's, and this is a house that was built in the 1850's. I'm in the basement flat which would've originally been the kitchen of the house. But clearly I would need a structural engineer to confirm this!

      I will look into emailing the conservation officer in the meantime, even though I don't expect to receive a response very quickly given the current circumstances. I'm just hoping my freeholder doesn't try to turn it into a money-making exercise for himself, by insisting on a fee that would not make the change worthwhile. I don't want to spend much money on a surveyor or structural engineer if there is a possibility that my freeholder will make the whole thing financially untenable.

      I shall be trying to find out as much as possible in the meantime.

      Thanks again! :-)

      Comment


        #4
        So do all the fact finding first so that you are well informed and know what you are up against, also try to get the Conservation officer on board on your side with your idea if you want to go ahead as he or she will be the person to say yes or no. The freeholder can not unreasonably refuse you the consent and if they do you could take to FTT. I found this case law useful.. Raja v Aviram – a case in point
        This recent (February 2016) case concerned a replacement boiler that the leaseholder installed without the necessary consents from the landlord.
        The boiler in Mr Aviram’s first floor flat had broken down. He called out a plumber, who advised that the pipework for the replacement boiler would need to run through the external walls, similarly to the existing boiler installation.
        Under the terms of the lease, any work that involved cutting the external walls had to have the express consent of the landlord. The leaseholder attempted to find the landlord, Mr Raja but, when he failed to track him down, pressed ahead anyway with the boiler installation.
        Mr Raja was alerted to the work when the installation caused some water damage to the ceiling of the flat below. This prompted him to bring a breach of lease claim against Mr Aviram and the case ended up in the First-tier Tribunal (FTT).
        The FTT found that there had been no breach, however the landlord appealed and the decision was overturned.
        The appeal judge found that the leaseholder had breached the lease, despite the existing cuts in the exterior wall from the old boiler; the difficulties in contacting the landlord; and the fact that the landlord said that he would have consented to the work, had he been asked…
        The judge determined that the leaseholder should have made greater efforts to contact the leaseholder and that nothing in the case excused him from installing the new boiler and making the cuts in the external walls, without first securing consent from the landlord.

        Comment


          #5
          Yes, your freeholder will likely charge a fee for examing existing and proposed plans, possibly visiting the site and granting approval. Clearly it adds some value to the flat., if only to you.
          Yes, I expect you need listed building consent.

          That being said you have also shown that lease plans often don't match true layouts so if you simply went ahead and did it then it's likely no one would ever complain.
          But bear in mind that stud walls can be structural....

          Comment


            #6
            • Even though there will be no increase in value of the property following this work, would the Freeholder be entitled to still ask me for money in exchange for permission?

            Since the lease says that you must not make alterations without consent, the consent must not be unreasonably withheld. The landlord is not entitled to a premium, only to compensation if the alterations will reduce the value of his interest in the building and to be paid any costs in connection with giving the consent. Chapter and verse is set out in section 19(2) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 which I set out below.

            • If so, should they be in a position to ask for anything at all given it could not be seen as an 'improvement' in terms of saleable value?

            See above.

            • If they are insistent on something just for the sake of it, is my only recourse in terms of challenging what's 'reasonable' an expensive tribunal of some sort?

            Basically, yes. You can though proceed with the work if you are confident that consent is being unreasonably withheld or unreasonable conditions imposed. That is though risky.

            • My flat is a conversion in a Grade II listed property. Do I need planning permission despite it being simply a non-load-bearing stud wall?

            See other threads and check with local authority.

            • And finally, I've recently noticed that the layout of my flat is slightly different to the floorplan attached to the lease. According to the floorplan the living room has a smaller cupboard type of room within it, and the entrance door to the living room was about 6 foot away from where it is now to accommodate this little room. Is that a minor thing or something I need to address? I've been here for 15 years but have only just noticed it given that I've been looking into this entire situation recently.

            Nothing to worry about.

            Section 19(2) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927:

            In all leases whether made before or after the commencement of this Act containing a covenant condition or agreement against the making of improvements without a licence or consent, such covenant condition or agreement shall be deemed, notwithstanding any express provision to the contrary, to be subject to a proviso that such licence or consent is not to be unreasonably withheld; but this proviso does not preclude the right to require as a condition of such licence or consent the payment of a reasonable sum in respect of any damage to or diminution in the value of the premises or any neighbouring premises belonging to the landlord, and of any legal or other expenses properly incurred in connection with such licence or consent nor, in the case of an improvement which does not add to the letting value of the holding, does it preclude the right to require as a condition of such licence or consent, where such a requirement would be reasonable, an undertaking on the part of the tenant to reinstate the premises in the condition in which they were before the improvement was executed.

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