Mid-floor ceiling void space

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    Mid-floor ceiling void space

    Background:
    * Recently purchased a mid-floor flat in a small, Victorian conversion share of freehold building
    * Building is rewriting a new lease, as the old lease is down to 85 years and contains some defects
    * New lease was supposed to be completed prior to purchase, but was delayed - so I now (potentially) have some opportunity to influence it

    The flat I purchased has two ceiling void / loft spaces, each with access panels:
    1) One, above foyer and kitchen - this is very clearly a non-structural ceiling void. If you go into the loft space, you see mouldings along the ceiling + some funky wallpaper from probably the 1960s making it clear that the ceiling was lowered at some point
    2) Two, in a small box / utility room on the half-floor landing - the loft area above the room has 2m high ceilings (so 4.7 m ceilings overall from my flat floor to the joists supporting the upstairs flat) and could potentially be usable square footage. The ceiling of the box room / floor of the loft area appears to be structural. The flat above has a tiny bedroom in this space. My guess is that new joists were built when the building was converted to avoid creating stairs down to this room, which would have rendered it unusable as a double bedroom. (It's only 1.8m x 2.7m.) So we're left with basically a "void" room between the two floors, accessible only through my ceiling access panel.

    The freehold company approved refurbishment plans ~10 years ago, in which both loft / void spaces were shown to be part of the flat, and which included a pull-down storage ladder for loft space two. The old owners clearly used the spaces (and left a bunch of junk for me when they moved!). In preparation for the new lease, the freeholder had a surveyor draw up floor plans of all of the flats and had access to the flat.

    Neither the original lease nor the new lease reference either of the void areas. Old lease says demise extends from halfway below the floor to halfway above the ceiling. New lease says demise extends from floor to ceiling, and space between the floor and the ceiling is a retained part. New lease says that section 62 of the 1925 property act does not apply. Both spaces would be extremely hard for anyone else to access - would require at least a 6' ladder from the common hallway, and creation of an access panel.

    To what extent, as a new owner/shared freeholder coming in at the conclusion of a long process, should I just accept this v. push for clarity that these spaces are part of my demise?

    It would seem I'm in no worse of a situation - under the previous lease, both my upstairs neighbour and the freeholder could have some claim to the ceiling void space. In the new lease, it's only the freeholder. Would the presence of plainly visible access panels during the freeholder's inspection and/or the previous permission granted for access ladders to this space have any bearing?

    #2
    If the new lease excludes section 62 (something better avoided) it is essential that it describes the full extent of the property including the roof voids so that any doubt is removed. It is also essential that all rights currently enjoyed are set out in full.

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