Can freeholder stop me from arranging & paying for home improvements on a leasehold?

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    Can freeholder stop me from arranging & paying for home improvements on a leasehold?

    I'm in the process of purchasing a leasehold property where the freeholder is a large housing association. It's an old period house that needs some improvement work (plus I want to build an extension). I'm buying the ground floor flat and there is only one more flat on top (that's being rented by the housing association to the same family for a number of years now).

    The work I want to do to the property involves building an extension and damp proof treatment, which I know would be the responsibility of the freeholder, according to the contract. But ... I don't want to have to fight with them and deal with their bureaucracy to make those improvements, so I'm prepared to arrange that and pay for it myself (although I know for the extension I would need planning permission and freeholder's consent - there are no restrictions to it in the leasehold agreement).

    Could the freeholder stop me from doing it, i.e. could they insist on doing it via their own contractors and on their own terms. I don't mind having to get their permission, but I wouldn't like them to prevent me from carrying out the works, just because they don't have time or they don't feel like doing it them, or because they decide that they're not needed.

    Please remember, you are not buying a flat, you are buying a Lease that allows you to reside in that flat for the term of the lease. When the lease expires, you pack your bags and leave. you do not get any money for the "lease", as the lease has expired, therefore you have nothing to sell.

    The flat is not yours to do with as you like. it is "leased" to you, not sold to you. You are given permission to live in someone else's building, by buying a lease to stay there, in the rooms allocated to you.

    If you "buy" a house, and it's all yours, no one has an "interest" in it, you can do what you like, but it is not yours.

    Your lease is to occupy the inside of the building, and the outside brickwork is not yours to put a damp course in. The freeholder can decide to put one in or not, but they must do it, not you.


      Thank you Ram.

      Yes, I am aware of what a lease entails vs a freehold. I also know that the freeholder would be ultimately responsible for DPC and can always say ‘no’ to my request.

      But I wonder what would be their justification for denying me to do that, if that is a clear improvement to the property and living standard there, and if I offer to pay for it myself. Of course, they can carry out the works themselves if they want to have the full control of it (although there is a risk to me that their contractors might not be up to the standard I would like), but I know that while for me it would seem as a priority, it doesn’t have to be so for them.

      I understand the legal rights of freeholder vs leaseholder, but wonder about the practice. If the risk of them saying ‘no’ to this is very high, I’d probably just walk away from this purchase. But as I really do love the flat for the potential it offers once renovated (and, hopefully, extended), I’m trying to do some research on the practices to weigh up the risk vs reward.


        All you can do is ask your questions to the freeholder.
        No one can say if you would get permission or not

        Do not expect them to reply to you, as you have no interest in the property because you are not a leaseholder, you have not supplied plans of the alterations, nor stated you would pay for the change in the lease, and the lease Must be changed, and that all repairs an maintenance of the extension will be yours to perform, and that if any existing drains were under your property and need replacing ( extension ) would be at your cost to have the foundations dug up and replaced.

        No one in their right mind will say you will can do the alterations without plans, consultations, a word with the upstairs flat to see if they have any objections, and you being a leaseholder first.
        Also, to evaluate your proposals costs money, and you have to pay, and you are not going to pay anything when you have not bought the lease yet.

        Assume 5 people want to do the same, - all are interested in purchasing ( pre your offer ) then there is no way the freeholder would be bothered to answer any of you. Why, because it's not the freeholder who wants to do the work, it's someone who does not live there and is not a leaseholder, so No, a) they don't have the time for unpaid work b) they are not going to entertain your request for permission before you even buy.

        Go talk to them....


          I am indeed trying to talk to them, but as you say - I am lower than the bottom of their priority list. And certainly doesn’t give me confidence I would get an upgrade to much closer to the top.

          Perhaps it’s too much of a risk, and a hehadache to later have to go through all the bureaucracy.

          It’d be a shame though. I have gotten attached to the vision of what that flat could be!


            Also, it's a housing association who will own 33 to 51% of the property ( your flat ) so I would not expect them to agree to any alterations.
            If they did, they can also ask for 50% of the increase in value the flat increases by, via the alterations.

            The lease is for a flat with no extra room with an extension.
            If the extension was already there when the first ever lease was written, the cost of the lease ( flat ) would be more ( more space ), and the freeholder gets more money.

            Why should you keep the increase in value with addition of an extension ? when the freeholder could have added it in the first lease
            Once in, they may well agree to all your requests, but may still want more money because the lease at the moment does not include an extension.

            6 room flat sells for £ 100,000, 7 room flat with the extension sells for £112,000,
            Association may well want £ 6,000. before you start.

            Anyway---Good hunting.. But keep away from Housing associations as well.


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