Consent unreasonably (imo!) withheld to put boiler in loft space - what next?

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    Consent unreasonably (imo!) withheld to put boiler in loft space - what next?

    Hello everyone - I'd be really grateful for any advice offered as I'm a recent first time buyer with little experience in these matters. Apologies for the length of this post...

    I purchased a top floor flat with a 900+ year lease and share of the freehold one year ago and would like to begin renovations as soon as possible.

    I received permission for all of the intended work without issue and then realised it would be very useful to put the boiler in the loft and went back to ask for that permission too, which was refused.

    All communication went through the property manager and the refusal was a complete surprise as I'd already seen the email chain between director and property management company that showed the property manager and their solicitor had advised that the lease stated the roof was demised to me but I would need to seek permission and further advised it was a minor matter that could be dealt with by a letter of consent or short form licence.

    He agreed to it if it were clear that any damage caused by a boiler in the loft (ie a fire) would be covered by both the estates's building insurance and my own contents insurance.

    Both of these checked out in my favour and before I had the chance to provide the written proof from my insurance company, I received notification that they had refused permission.

    When I asked for their reason, they replied with the following points:

    i) the boiler must remain in his flat
    ii) the roof belongs to and is the financial responsibility of all owners and it would set a precedent and cause conflict with other flats
    iii) he does not own the roof space
    iv) we have a responsibility to manage risk due to large insurance pay-outs and premiums

    Through reading the lease myself and also from the solicitor's advice when i bought the flat, I believe the loft space is demised to my flat. Interestingly the roof and external walls are demised to the flat too (but yet, the repair responsibilities are not mine).

    I wrote back politely asserting the loft space is mine and that I didn't see how restricting the boiler position was managing risk as the two insurance companies were fine with it and so were the two gas safe engineers that visited the property to quote (furthermore, British Gas offer loft installation as one of their standard options). I also mentioned it would be too late to set a precedent as I can see 5 vertical flues on other flats on the estate from my bedroom window alone (although to be fair, we couldn't know from the outside if the boiler is located in the loft space or the lower part of the flat).

    I asked for them to reconsider.

    They ignored that mail and when I chased them for their reply, they just relayed that the decision stayed the same.

    I really didn't want to get into a dispute, especially as I'm new here. I'm left feeling like I shouldn't even have asked for permission as I suspect others don't but really wanted to do it the right way. Would have been happy to change my plans if they had some valid points - as I say, I'm new to this and am happy they are watching out for us, but their reasons and thought processes seem deeply flawed to me. I'd be happy to hear anyone's thoughts on this and how to proceed.

    Thanks for reading!

    #2
    Communicate directly with freeholder (a separate entity). Is it a company? If so who are current directors?
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks - my understanding is it is a company and having checked on companies house there are two directors of that company one of whom has a local address (possibly renting his flat out?) and the other's address is on the estate. I believe all the communications via the property manager are going to one or both of these.

      I did suggest that we communicate directly but the director's reply came back via the property manager so it's clearly something they wish to avoid.

      Having made their decision, it seems they don't wish to discuss it further so I'm looking for a way to take it forward - possibly solicitors letter or wondered if there is a tribunal that deals with this?

      Comment


        #4
        I am going through something very similar (trying to obtain consent for a loft conversion.

        U mentioned that the roof is expressly demised to u.

        Questions,

        who is responsible for insuring the roof (u or the FH)?

        who is responsible for repairing the roof?

        in my situation, I am responsible for both. Since the roof space is not mentioned (only the roof), I found a case law confirming that the roof space is also mine (Hatfield v moss).

        as long as ur improvements form part of ur demise, the FH cannot object to the alterations.

        i would strongly recommend u get a solicitor to help u get the consent.

        Comment


          #5
          I would communicate directly with the freeholder (the company, at it's address), copying both directors.


          You may understand they have been informed, but I suspect you don;t know for sure...
          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

          Comment


            #6
            What the the alterations clause say? Please quote in full.

            As to whether you own the roof space: Is the loft, cellar or balcony included in the lease? - LandlordZONE Forums

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks so much for all your replies....

              @Babyspice: We have a buildings insurance that is funded by service charge. I've been advised that I am not responsible for the repair of the roof despite it being demised to me which I understand is more unusual.

              theartfullodger: I checked the information held at companies house and the address of the company is the property management company. I requested confirmation from the property manager that the email had been sent and that was given.

              @Lawcruncher: I believe this is the relevant part:

              --
              No alteration or addition shall be made to the Premises (whether internally or externally) or other parts of the Managed Buildings except with and in compliance with the previous written consent of the Lessor nor (without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing) to interfere with injure or remove the main walls timbers or any other structural or load-bearing parts of the Premises and in any event not to prejudice the support for the Other Units or other adjacent premises
              --

              For the part about loft, cellar or balcony....

              --
              (As to premises on any other level(s)) the balcony where provided and (as to premises on the top floor) the roof and supporting structure situate above such premises and
              --

              I don't see anything about the cellar in the Demises section of the lease.

              Comment


                #8
                "No alteration or addition shall be made to the Premises (whether internally or externally) or other parts of the Managed Buildings except with and in compliance with the previous written consent of the Lessor "

                The above clearly applies to all types of alterations.

                Unless the structure of the building is compromised by moving the boiler to the roof space, it is difficult to see how they can refuse consent given that you own the roof space. The main point I think you need to emphasise is that you own the roof space.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks Lawcruncher; I already emphasised that I own it when I asked them to reconsider. They didn't budge. Do you have any ideas for how to move forward?

                  Are there any tribunals or suchlike or is the next step to contact a solicitor?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    If the property is for rental, the gas appliances have to be checked annually for gas leakage by a plumber and not suitable position if boiler is installed in the roof space.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks Gordon999 - it's for me to live in. I'm very open to hearing reasons why it may not be a good idea to put a boiler in the loft although on this point, the engineers who visited to quote were happy to service too - the requirements for fitting/servicing in a loft seem to mainly be around having a fixed ladder, light and for it to be boarded out.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I would refuse your application in my current capacity.

                        The roof is ( normally ) all timber, everywhere. The freeholder does own the loft space and the roof, but has leased it to you for the remaining term of the lease.
                        It would be a potential fire hazard.
                        Yes we know boilers are now safe-ish, with their built in auto cut offs if water pressure drops and gas pilot lights go out. But It cannot be seen on a daily basis. every day. Any leaks water or gas cannot be seen every day as one would see it in the flat.

                        The roof protects ALL flats, not just yours, and for that reason, the roof can be classed as a vital part of the structure that must be protected for the good of the leaseholders, but still demised to you.
                        Protecting all other flats is the criteria here, and a boiler in the loft is not a good idea when any decision affects ALL leaseholders.

                        That is why all leaseholders will be responsible for the roof maintenence costs. the roof protects all leaseholders.
                        Also if you demise the roof repairs to a leaseholder, the chances are that if the roof ever needs a complete replacement, no leaseholder will have up to £ 50,000 to £ 100,000 spare to renew it, and much litigation follows to get the roof fixed, even having the flat forfeited for not fixixing the roof.



                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thanks for your comments ram - you're points are much better made than the directors I am dealing with!

                          However, my feeling is that the gas safe engineers saw the loft (and all the timber) and concluded it was a suitable place for a boiler. The two insurance companies were also happy to cover it in that location. For me, they provide a good litmus test for risk and safety and eventually we need to accept some risk.

                          It's also not the case that boilers in other locations are risk free to other leaseholders. My downstairs neighbour has a boiler in his kitchen which could in the unlikely event of a fire cause damage to the joists between his ceiling and my floor, potentially spreading into my flat and then eventually the roof space.

                          Whilst there might be more chance of discovering a boiler malfunction in the kitchen, I'm not sure it's significant. People often conceal boilers in cupboards and if the malfunction happened whilst they were out at work or asleep then any little advantage would be gone.

                          I'd certainly install leak and smoke alarms etc in the loft to mitigate risk and the fact that you can design the system to isolate the boiler in the loft from "downstairs" becomes an advantage in an emergency.

                          Out of curiosity, how you would deal with the fact that I've spotted that other leaseholders have vertical flues and have likely done the same without asking permission?





                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by vcps2021 View Post
                            Thanks for your comments ram - you're points are much better made than the directors I am dealing with!

                            My downstairs neighbour has a boiler in his kitchen which could in the unlikely event of a fire cause damage to the joists between his ceiling and my floor, potentially spreading into my flat and then eventually the roof space.

                            Correct, but a fire would start in the downstairs flat an hopfully be put out before demolising your flat.
                            You ( if in ) would notice a fire coming up from downstairs, and you too would put it out before it reaches the roof.
                            A boiler on fire in the loft wont be noticed by you for a while and a long while by the lower flat.

                            I'd certainly install leak and smoke alarms etc in the loft to mitigate risk and the fact that you can design the system to isolate the boiler in the loft from "downstairs" becomes an advantage in an emergency.
                            If it was me answering you ( freeholder ) I would insist on hard wired smoke and co alarms, as it's to protect the whole property, make you pay for them, but the freeholder installs them, as no way does a lease holder install ANY safety equipment required by the freeholder.

                            You would of course have to grant access to the alarm testing team, every week/ month / 3 months when they test the property alarms ( if fitted ) but if no common area alarms are fitted, you can be the designated fire alarm person for your loft, provided you keep a record of the dates tested, and a copy to the freeholder, as if there is ever fire, an insurance company WILL want to see those records BEFORE any pay out.

                            I would also recommend emergency lighting

                            Battery only alarms fitted by leasholders dont get serviced in flats, and only when the irritating beeps start - to let you know to replace the battery, is it looked at. And cheap alarms have more of a squeak.

                            Out of curiosity, how you would deal with the fact that I've spotted that other leaseholders have vertical flues and have likely done the same without asking permission?
                            Then IF there are already boilers in lofts, then it's time to say ENOUGH. no more. I assume the vertical flues stick throug the roof tiles.

                            A freeholders job is a many faceted job, one of which is not only to protect leaseholders, but also to protect the Freehoders PROPERTY.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by ram View Post
                              if there is ever fire, an insurance company WILL want to see those records BEFORE any pay out.
                              I doubt that as the insurance company have set no conditions about hard wired smoke alarms.

                              From a purely human safety perspective, I'd prefer the fire to start above me in the loft rather than on the same level as me or under me. I don't wish to be a human smoke detector. That's also true from a carbon monoxide perspective - much better to have that risk in a place I don't spend much time.

                              Comment

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