Is an email from the freeholder enough for consent to start works?

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    Is an email from the freeholder enough for consent to start works?

    We're doing some renovations to our property, and was asked by the freeholder to pay £1,500 for the legal consent etc. Right before issuing the consent they noticed that we were doing work to structural walls, and asked for structural building drawings, which we sent. Now, they're saying we can start the works but they won't give us the formal signed consent until they've had a surveyor inspect the works (at an additional cost of £1,000 to ourselves).

    Can we rely on this email from the freeholder below to start works?

    "I am pleased to confirm that we are happy for you to proceed with the proposed internal renovations and redecorations in accordance with the conditions set out in XXX City Council planning approval dated DD MMM 2021"

    To be clear - we're not questioning the current costs, just whether we can rely on the email rather than a signed document. I'm concerned we'll be held over a barrel at a later stage and be asked for more money, or to return the flat to the original condition (which would be impossible at that stage).

    #2
    No way should the freeholder have said they happy for you to proceed with the proposed internal renovations, as that implies consent / authorisation is given.
    But freeholder is entitled to have his surveyor inspect the plans and work quotations before work commences and after completion.

    Freeholder has shot himself in the foot.
    Don't proceed until Licence to alter,

    But, get it in writing before you start, as emails can be forged, and freeholder in receipt of all monies requested, .

    Comment


      #3
      "I am pleased to confirm that we are happy for you to proceed with the proposed internal renovations and redecorations in accordance with the conditions set out in XXX City Council planning approval dated DD MMM 2021"

      That clearly amounts to consent. There was a in fact a case where the landlord said that consent was given subject to a formal licence being given and the court held that that amounted to sufficient consent.

      You should be questioning the costs. £1,500 is outrageous for a licence. I recently drafted a precedent from scratch to post in the forum and it only took me 15 minutes. Lawyers have their precedents which cover most cases cut and dried. All they have to do is insert the parties and the lease details and copy the description of the works. it is low grade work and many lawyers will get their secretaries or juniors to do it.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you both. Lawcruncher do you know the name of the case where that happened?

        Comment


          #5
          commercial_property_group_landlords_beware_of_acci dentally_granting_consent_to_tenants_august_2009.p df (russell-cooke.co.uk)

          Comment


            #6
            Thank you Lawcruncher. That gives us confidence to proceed. I agree that the licence costs are high (£1500+£1000 for the surveyor), but I don't have the heart or will to contest it. I'm more concerned about being held in breach of lease in future.

            Comment


              #7
              The law is clear. However, I appreciate that you are nervous about proceeding without a formal consent. If that is going to worry you unduly, then go for the formal consent. If you do, I urge you to contest the extortionate fees.

              In the first instance though, I would write and say that you have taken legal advice which is that consent has already been given and that you propose to go ahead with the works, Quote the case mentioned above. You do not of course need to do carry out the works, but they may have second thoughts.

              Comment

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