Retrospective consent licence and reasonable fees

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    Retrospective consent licence and reasonable fees

    Hello there,

    I purchased a leasehold flat a few years ago and have recently been contacted by the managing agents acting on behalf of the freeholder to say that a small rear extension at the property (built before my purchase) does not have consent. Naturally I am quite worried about this, but even more so as the flat is currently on the market.

    The agents have advised that we need to be granted a retrospective consent licence and have quoted £4,000 in an email that I note was marked "without prejudice" which I understand means cannot be used in future legal conversations, which struck me as odd. I have since looked online and have found that this agency has been involved in disputes in the past to do with extortionate consent fees, so I'm quite concerned.

    The agents have advised that I get in touch with the solicitors who assisted in the purchase as it could be likely we have a case against them if they did not do the right checks, and that the solicitors insurance will cover the consent licence fees. I have looked at the documents we received at the time and although the extension was listed as an alteration by the sellers on an information form, no indication was given about consent. We didn't flag this with the solicitors further - do we have a leg to stand on re: them not doing further checks?

    I understand that freeholders are able to charge alteration fees, but that they must be "reasonable". Unfortunately it has been very hard to find information about retrospective consent and what a reasonable fee actually is. Does anyone have any insight they can share? Is £4,000 a fair fee, is there room for negotiation, is it likely we are being charged too much as a punt (the "without prejudice" has made me wonder")?

    Thank you very much for any help you may be able to give!

    #2
    Sharks!

    But first things first:

    When was the extension constructed?

    Please quote in full the lease clause(s) relating to alterations.

    On the purchase were questions asked of the landlord or managing agents? If, so, what were the questions and answers in respect of alterations and if the tenant was in breach of covenant?

    Has the landlord or agent inspected since you bought? If so, when?

    Has rent been demanded or accepted since you bought? If so, when was the last occasion?

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