Do I need consent from my Freeholder to make alterations

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    Do I need consent from my Freeholder to make alterations

    I've recently purchased a 1970 maisonette and want to get on with some renovations including the removal of a non-load bearing stud wall (verified) between the kitchen and the living room. I have asked my Freeholder to clarify if I require consent to alter given the following clauses in my lease: (this is how it is written in the lease - without commas or fullstops)
    1. Not to cut maim or injure any of the principal walls timber iron or stucco work on the premises
    2. Unless consent in writing of the Managers shall first be obtained
      1. the exterior appearance of the buildings walls fences and other erections now on the premises shall not hereafter be altered
      2. no additional building walls fences or other erections shall hereafter be constructed or maintained on the premises
    3. Nothing shall be done on the premises which will be an alteration to or departure from the overall landscaping scheme for the Estate as a whole
    I have pointed out that there is no reference to non-primary or internal non-structural walls, which I take a stud wall to be. The Freeholder is now dragging their feet and not responding to my query.

    Additionally, the plan provided with my lease shows only the footprint of the property, I have no plan that shows the internal layout.

    Any advice on whether or not I will ultimately require the consent?

    #2
    Your freeholder would probably argue that it is a principal wall regardless whether it is load bearing or not and now you have pre-warned them you really should get consent. That being said they probably don't have an internal plan either.
    I am a little more concerned about the clause preventing you from maintaining an erection on the premises, that would seem to breach your human rights

    Comment


      #3
      The building legally belongs to the freeholder and leaseholders are just tenants under a long term rental agreement.

      Leaseholders don't have any rights to alter the property until after a collective purchase of the freehold.

      Comment


        #4
        Hi, i have a similar issue, except I've owned my flat for 8 years and the previous alterations were done approx. 20 years ago - not sure who but freeholder must've known and since then there were 2 other buyers, and when I purchased the flat it was sold as a 2 bed which the freeholder and his managing agents were well are of and had done extensive decor just prior to my purchase and confirmed in their replies to my solicitors questions they weren't aware of any breach or outstanding issue but yesterday have written and say I have to apply for retro consent which I know this freeholder will ask me to pay tens of thousands for something that doesn't seem fair I should have to pay. Is there a time limit on how far retro consents need to be made or for freeholder to have taken action when he reasonably knew, or buying based on reply of no breaches - would that put me in a better position if no time limits?

        Comment


          #5
          Gordon999,

          Does that apply to people who own their house but in leasehold? I own my home but put an extension width planning permission and the freehold company which ice seen mentioned on many forums on Google, are giving me a tough time because I did not get their consent but now wont allow me to purchase the freehold until I've jumped through their upcoming hoops. I wasnt advised to do this and only just found out and don't know what they're going to do next or know how far they can legally take this x

          Comment


            #6
            I would think "principal walls" means supporting wall. Therefore, you MUST (regardless of how obvious the wall may be that it is not supporting) get an opinion for value (i.e. you pay a proper fee) from a qualified structural engineer to confirm it is not a supporting wall. If it is confirmed by the engineer then in my opinion, based on what you have disclosed, I think you can then remove that wall without the consent of the freeholder

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Thelma111 View Post
              Does that apply to people who own their house but in leasehold?
              Yes.

              If your home is leasehold you don't own it. What you own is a lease that gives you the long term right to use the property, with the house or flat actually owned by the freeholder.

              Regarding your extension, how far the freeholder can take that will depend on many factors, most importantly the specifics of your lease and any applicable legislation.
              If the freehold is owned by a large company, it is quite likely that they have lawyers on their payroll and, if they are dishonest (like many such companies seem to be) they are likely to try and get money out of you even if they know that they don't have a case.

              It costs very little for them to send threatening letters demanding payment, but it may be very expensive for you to fight this because of the legal costs involved (and the risk that you might be expected to pay their legal costs as well as your own if a decision goes against you.
              Contact people like the leasehold advisory service, citizens advice, etc. and ask them to look at your lease and advise you. You may also need to find a suitably qualified professional and pay for them to assess the situation.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by sgclacy View Post
                I would think "principal walls" means supporting wall.
                That would seem reasonable, but it will be important to be certain that this is how the clause would be interpreted legally - or at least to be certain that you could successfully argue that it is how the clause should be interpreted.

                If "principal walls" does mean the load bearing walls, the clauses you quote do not seem to require any permission for the removal of non-load bearing internal walls within the demised property.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Using the term "principal wall" has to imply that there are walls which are not principal walls. Accordingly, if it is asked which walls are principal walls I think the answer has to be any wall which is an external wall or a load-bearing wall.

                  If the lease provisions quoted by SKennedy are the only relevant ones then consent is not needed to take down a non-load-bearing wall. The only thing that SKennedy needs to be sure of is that the wall in question is a non-load-bearing wall.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
                    Using the term "principal wall" has to imply that there are walls which are not principal walls. Accordingly, if it is asked which walls are principal walls I think the answer has to be any wall which is an external wall or a load-bearing wall.
                    Presumably, as this would be the most favourable interpretation for the leaseholder, the freeholder would need very good supporting arguments if they wanted to try to argue for any alternative interpretation?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      The building legally belongs to the freeholder and leaseholders are just tenants under a long term rental agreement.
                      If your home is leasehold you don't own it. What you own is a lease that gives you the long term right to use the property, with the house or flat actually owned by the freeholder.
                      Sorry, but these assertions are quite wrong. I do wish that members would stop making them. This muddled-headed notion has been repeated so often that many have come to accept it. No doubt it was first made somewhere by some barrack-room lawyer with a grasp of real property law which it would be generous to describe as weak.

                      The position in law is that all land and anything permanently fixed to it belongs to the Crown. All anyone else can own is an estate or interest in land. Now of course for all practical purposes and for most legal purposes (including anything relevant to the subject of this thread) a freeholder who has not granted a tenancy can be said to "own" the land and any buildings on it. However, with exceptions not relevant to this thread, the grant of a tenancy is not just a contract, but also involves the creation of an estate in land. So, when a lease is granted there are two concurrent estates in land. In legal terminology, the landlord has a fee simple and freehold tenure and the tenant a term of years and leasehold tenure. The respective estates are in the same thing, that is the property demised. Accordingly, it does not make legal sense to say that the landlord owns the property demised and the tenant has nothing but the right to occupy the property.

                      *
                      it is also important to understand what a tenant can do when it comes to alterations.

                      The default position in the absence of any provision in the terms of the tenancy is that the law of waste applies. How it applies depends on the type of tenancy. It is not necessary to go into it because in practice it rarely applies to long leases as the terms almost invariably have something to say about alterations. Once the terms of the tenancy have something to say about alterations it is the terms of the tenancy and not the law of waste which apply. If something is not prohibted, it is allowed.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I do think that the way Macromia and other members of the forum describe the freeholder/leaseholder relationship is a useful one, even if it is not completely accurate in a legal sense.

                        Whilst the leaseholder does own an estate in land, the tenancy is granted by the freeholder, who in turn has control over the rights of the leaseholder through the lease and the covenants within.

                        Most people, I would say, take "ownership" to mean they have absolute freedom over how they use that thing. In the leaseholder/freeholder relationship, the leaseholder does not have usually have that freedom, as the rights associated with the leasehold estate are determined by the lease.

                        It is far easier to explain the situation to most people in terms of the freeholder "owning" the property and the leaseholder only having the right to occupy it because most people will understand that explanation readily, rather than trying to explain that both own an estate in land but with differing rights. I don't think for most practical purposes it makes much difference to the advice offered because it isn't too far from the reality of the situation.

                        That being said Lawcruncher I very much appreciate your explanation of this matter as I had not really understood the subtleties before.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thelma111,

                          If your property title is a leasehold house, the leaseholder can purchase the freehold title after 2 years . The free guide to enfranchisement is given in the free guide to download from LEASE :

                          https://www.lease-advice.org/advice-...ion-valuation/

                          Comment


                            #14
                            chris1544,

                            "Ownership" seems like a straightforward concept but, like a lot of things, it proves to be tricky when you look into it.

                            I do not think that the way the freeholder/leaseholder relationship is described in the quotes in post 11 is a useful one at all. It is not a case of it being "not completely accurate in a legal sense" but being completely wrong. It is unhelpful because it gives the impression that a leaseholder is "just" a tenant and places emphasis on the second half of the word "landlord". Where a property is subject to a long lease virtually the whole of the capital value belongs to the leaseholder. If you tell a leaseholder that only the landlord "owns the property" the leaseholder is left wondering what it is he has paid for.

                            It is also unhelpful because it thinks of the ownership of land in terms of a tangible thing, that is the bricks and mortar. Such an approach may be fine for something like a watch. However, even with a watch it can start to get complicated if you lend it to a friend. Then, ownership is not so much about the thing itself, but about the relationship between you and the friend in respect of the watch. With respect to land it can get much more complicated. All sorts of rights can exist simultaneously in the same piece of land: the right to occupy it; the right to use it for some limited purpose such as to use part of it to get from one point to another; the right to prevent things being done on it; the right to receive income from it; the right to buy it at a future date; the right to sell it if a loan secured on it is not repaid, to name but a few. It is only by convention that only some of these rights are thought of or described in terms of ownership.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Lawcruncher,

                              Yep. Till the lease drops to 6 months

                              Comment

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