Leaseholder not supplying alterations plans - legally required for Licence to Alter?

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    Leaseholder not supplying alterations plans - legally required for Licence to Alter?

    As absolute Freeholder of a period house property that was converted into two self-contained flats some 45 years ago, and being the owner/occupier of the Upper Flat, I am currently dealing with an experienced, buy-to-let Leaseholder who has recently purchased the Ground Floor Flat, and is intent on extension and internal re-development (all apparently within demise) with regards to the Licence For Alterations procedure, which has yet to be finalized and granted.

    The Leaseholder has gained planning permission, and served Party Wall Notices supplying the usual basic architectural and structural plans accordingly, but has refused to supply more detailed plans or information showing full scope of the works, informing me that as they will meet Building Regulations standards, he has provided all that is “legally required”.

    Is this correct?

    I have concerns about plumbing, ventilation, hard-flooring and adequate sound insulation measures, and also about the quality of materials and workmanship involved, and would like to see more detailed plans.

    My solicitor can’t answer about being “legally required”, saying it might be a question for surveyor (yet to be appointed), but as a “legal” matter, the surveyor might just refer back to solicitor?

    In any case, there might be works that meet building regs yet still cause detriment to the Upper Flat, and I have suspicion that the Leaseholder is trying to conceal something which may cause problems in future, because his submitted plans already have some inaccuracies.

    Can anyone help me with this?

    Other solicitors won’t advise unless they get instructed.

    (It would be a further dilemma for me to de-instruct my solicitor and go elsewhere, especially as I am the one who is trying to be reasonable).

    #2
    What requires freeholder consent is usually worded in the lease.

    So you can have your say if any load bearing internal walls in the flat are removed or if the lounge is moved to be under your bedroom and increasing the noise at night. . But I doubt if your lease allows you to dictate the quality of materials used inside the flat.

    Comment


      #3
      What exactly does the lease say regarding alterations? I think that you should say that you cannot consider the application sufficiently to make a decision as to whether consent is to be granted without more detailed drawings including the details as to any changes in external pipe work and flues. I cant see how the type of flooring of a ground floor flat is relevant as you are in a first floor flat. It is not unreasonable to say that you require your reasonable and properly incurred costs to be paid irrespective of the result of the application for licence to alter. Normally a licence to alter would require that the applicant complies with all statutory requirements. Any such licence should be by reference to plans attached. I have sometimes obtained an indemnity from the applicant in respect of all matters arising out of the granting of the consent sought but whether or not this can be insisted upon is unknown. You are in the driving seat at present, but if you unreasonably delay in determining the application you could be liable for damages.

      Comment


        #4
        Almost all lease give you the right to inspect the property upon giving appropriate notice

        if that is the case here then exercise your right and have your surveyor view the works carried out

        Comment


          #5
          I suspect that your leaseholder is of the opinion that, if the work he wants to do meets building regulations, you can't legally refuse permission.

          Whether you can, or not, will come down to the exact wording in your lease but, if the alterations do require your permission, I would think that refusal to provide full details of what they want to do would definitely make it reasonable for you to refuse permission.

          Comment


            #6
            Thank you very much to all above for your replies…

            re: Gordon999
            My solicitor has seen the lease, and I think he could at least have drawn my attention to it (like you did) – so I hope to liaise further with my surveyor.

            I agree with you about quality of materials to be used.

            re: flyingfreehold
            All I can find relevant in lease is mention of “not to permit anything done upon demised premises which may be or grow to be a nuisance damage grievance or annoyance to owners or occupiers of the upper flat”

            (my opinion on hard flooring – I know what you mean, but in my experience, excessive contact sound below can result in unacceptable airborne sound being transmitted above?) And the new development happens to be much more open plan, and also with two new WC/washrooms to be installed into centre of property – currently, just one at the rear.

            But it seems the leaseholder will just do absolute minimum re: statutory requirements, so again, I may just have to rely on surveyor advice.

            re: sgclacy
            Yes, surveyor will be involved, but I am trying to consider best reasonable conditions to be attached to the LTA before determining it.

            re: Macromia
            Your opinion of the leaseholder is same as mine. Not sure about the “reasonable” bit though (I would rather not refuse consent) and am conscious of flyingfreehold’s comment about damages liability.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Mervyn View Post
              Not sure about the “reasonable” bit though (I would rather not refuse consent) and am conscious of flyingfreehold’s comment about damages liability.
              You need to know how the proposed alterations fit with the requirements for permission in the lease, and under applicable law.

              I think that there are three possibilities:
              1. The alterations are permissible and you cannot withhold consent.
              2. Permission cannot be unreasonably withheld.
              3. You are under no obligation to allow the alterations, and can therefore insist on pretty much anything you want before you give permission.

              Since you have been asked for permission, the leaseholder apparently believes that permission is required. It is therefore completely reasonable for you to continue to respond by saying that you cannot give permission until you have a more detailed understanding of what the proposed alterations are.

              Personally, I doubt that this could be considered to be unreasonably delaying anything, so I don't see how you could be held liable for any 'damages' as a result of delaying permission.

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks Macromia.

                My thoughts are:

                1. The alterations are permissible [but only if accomplished in reasonably good manner] and that I cannot [unreasonably] withhold consent.

                I do not want to be unreasonable – I am genuinely concerned about the property as a whole, I just want to be fully indemnified against any future problems that any remiss Works may cause.

                2. Permission cannot be unreasonably withheld. Yes, but its about covering the bases on reasonableness in withholding. ie: If there must be a tribunal case against me for being unreasonable, I want to win the case, or have it dismissed.

                3. I am under no obligation to allow the alterations, and can therefore insist on pretty much anything I want [as long as it is considered reasonable, especially in jurisdiction] before I give permission.

                I agree entirely with everything else you mention, but know I am dealing with a highly cunning and knowledgeable professional in such matters.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: -flyingfreehold - :

                  "Any such licence should be by reference to plans attached. I have sometimes obtained an indemnity from the applicant in respect of all matters arising out of the granting of the consent sought ..."

                  It is now apparent that the applicant wants to cap fees, and wants an upper limit set on this incorporated into the LTA Heads Of Terms.

                  Any thoughts and ideas anyone?

                  Comment

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