Flats purchased but no p/permission; dispute with landlord

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    Flats purchased but no p/permission; dispute with landlord

    I bought some flats in the same building on jan 05 from allsops auction, I bought the 3 top flats and my brother bought the 3 middle floor flats (theres 2 shops on the ground floor) the solicitor did her work and advised they were ok after checking the legal packs etc. 2 weeks ago the middle flat had a leak that the shop owner below advised us of, myself and my brother went to the shop and had a look and assertained where the lek was coming from and dealt with it and told the shop keeper we would need to keep an eye on it and come back to recheck. The shop owner told us not to worry as he now wanted to claim through insurance for damages ie carpets etc. A short while after we received a call from the freeholder of the building who we had not met since we bought the property and had neglected the property ie lighting in the comunal areas, floor and ignored the shop keepers comms to him as the shop is on lease to him from the freeholder. The shopkeeper was now saying to the freeholder that he wants to sue due to loss of earning etc becouse he has had to shut the shop down (but theres a notice on the shop saying closed due to refurbishment) and staff have left becouse of the water damage and the shop keeper has been trying to contact the freeholder with no responces. The shop keeper estimates the damage to be in the region of £2500 (there were 2 drips which damaged the floor tiles - the cost of which would be under £100 tp replace the damaged floor tiles and lowered ceiling tiles, not sure where they got £2500 from).

    The freeholder has been in touch with us to say you can pay it or he will sue us for his losses and also he mentioned that when the previouse owner sold the property to him, he had not seen any planning consent to turn the property into flats (which the previouse owner did and was supposidely checked by my solicitor before I purchased the propertys in jan 05). Now it turns out that the flats may not have been stamped by planning before they were sold to us.

    Our insurance is with beumonts and is general and covers all 6 flats (mine and my brothers) all under one policy and is under my name only



    Questions.

    1. if the landlord wants to sue my brother for damage recovery will there be a problem with the insurance bieng just under my name (but covering all the flats)
    2. can the shop owner sue the landlord for damages or would he have to sue the flat owner that caused the damages
    3. can the shop owner sue for this amount for very little damage or would he have to prove the costs etc first
    4. can the landlord sue us for damages esspecially if hes neglected the property and not even introduced himself
    5. if the propertys were bought from auction allready done up as flats, but not stamped by planning shouldn’t the solicitors be liable for not checking and feeding back this info where can I take this or would I need to sue the soliciors for my costs after the freeholder sues my brother and after the councill planning add to renovation costs (putting things correct), and would the previous owner for not having the relevant stamps before selling be accountable for anything?.
    6. if the council get involved (luton) what will they do and what do I have to look out for / worry about and what can I do in my defence
    7 can the freeholder charge me for anything that he has not notified me in advance for ie blocked drain work a few months ago that he has only mentioned now esspecially when he has never communicated anything with us before.
    8 if the palnning isnt stamped what do i do to correct it.

    kam 07956227022 or uk989@hotmail.com any help and advise would be appreciated as i am pulling my hair out at the moment.

    #2
    Originally posted by patel989
    7 can the freeholder charge me for anything that he has not notified me in advance for ie blocked drain work a few months ago that he has only mentioned now esspecially when he has never communicated anything with us before.
    What does the lease say about paying for maintenance, repairs and renewals?

    Be sensible now. You’ve purchased some flats. Why would you want to shirk any responsibilities for paying for the maintenance of them? Would you conversely be begging for help if the drains backed up and the freeholder tried to say you didn’t notify him?

    Comment


      #3
      the lease doesnt say anything about maintenance and also no charges have been proposed or levied since i have had the flats, infact i have never even had a comms from the freeholder ever!!.

      i am not shirking any responsibilities quite the opposite in fact. the communal areas are upto the landlord yet i repair and maintain them as well as the roof and outside which is all upto the freeholder not myself. my waste pipe did block up but instead of running and hiding i had that fixed and have allways maintained the flats fixing any issues straight away without involving or begging to the freeholder. the blocked drains were for the shop downstairs and not the flats.

      part of my question was :
      can the freeholder charge me for anything that he has not notified me in advance for ie blocked drain work a few months ago that he has only mentioned now esspecially when he has never communicated anything with us before.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by patel989
        the lease doesnt say anything about maintenance
        Are you sure? It doesn’t sound like these are the most effective leases if there is no obligation to pay for maintenance, repairs and renewals. This is definitely a disadvantage and you are now finding out the confusion it causes.
        Originally posted by patel989
        can the freeholder charge me for anything that he has not notified me in advance for ie blocked drain work a few months ago that he has only mentioned now esspecially when he has never communicated anything with us before.
        If you truly want an answer to that question: the freeholder can do anything it chooses because it ain’t specified in the lease - at least they’ll try to push you into thinking you must pay.

        Your best hope is to negotiate with the freeholder and try to keep this out of court because that’s the way it’s heading. Alternatively nothing will get done; or you will carry out work and the freeholder will object; or the freeholder will carry out work and you will (as now) object. Do you see what I mean?

        Please share with the members:
        How long did your solicitor study the leases prior to purchase?
        Did the solicitor tell you that the leases did not specify an obligation to pay for maintenance, repairs and renewals?
        Do all the leases contain exactly the same clauses?
        What else is missing from the leases?
        Do you understand the leases?

        Comment


          #5
          thanks poppy, good advise -
          the solicitor had the auction legal pack etc for approx 3 weeks before the purchase (as you may be aware you have to complete within 28 days after the hammer falls. and advised it was ok to purchase.
          yes all the leases are exactly the same.
          i understand the leases to a point but can say what is missing as i have no reference to base this on but will have another detailed look at all paperwork again.

          Comment


            #6
            1. if the landlord wants to sue my brother for damage recovery will there be a problem with the insurance bieng just under my name (but covering all the flats)
            That depends upon the precise wording of the policy, you would be better off asking your insurer or broker than us.

            2. can the shop owner sue the landlord for damages or would he have to sue the flat owner that caused the damages
            Anyone can sue anyone else. Whether the claim succeeds will depend upon the circumstances. In this instance it is most likely that the landlord would be sued as he has a contract with the shop owner, but the landlord would sue the flat owner in turn. Alternatively the shop owner could sue the flat owner in tort....as I said, the shop owner can sue either or both parties.

            3. can the shop owner sue for this amount for very little damage or would he have to prove the costs etc first
            You don't have to prove a thing to sue someone. You only have to prove something to win your case.

            4. can the landlord sue us for damages esspecially if hes neglected the property and not even introduced himself
            Yes. Of course you may have a counter claim and his actions may aid your defence.

            5. if the propertys were bought from auction allready done up as flats, but not stamped by planning shouldn’t the solicitors be liable for not checking and feeding back this info where can I take this or would I need to sue the soliciors for my costs after the freeholder sues my brother and after the councill planning add to renovation costs (putting things correct), and would the previous owner for not having the relevant stamps before selling be accountable for anything?.
            Unsure what you mean by "stamps". The alterations either had the necessary planning cionsent or they did not. If they did not the liability passes to the new owner (caveat emptor). It is no longer the previous owners problem.


            6. if the council get involved (luton) what will they do and what do I have to look out for / worry about and what can I do in my defence
            It appears that the flats may have been developed without planning permission and/or building regulations consent. The council are responsible for enforcement actions for both of those things. Nobody here can tell you what the council will do, but ignoring the possibility that these flats were unlawfully converted is not a good idea. The problem will not go away. I'd suggest you speak to the local authority.

            7 can the freeholder charge me for anything that he has not notified me in advance for ie blocked drain work a few months ago that he has only mentioned now esspecially when he has never communicated anything with us before.
            Look at your lease. If your lease does not answer the question then only a court can.

            8 if the palnning isnt stamped what do i do to correct it.
            If you mean that the conversion did not have planning permission then you can apply for a certificate of lawful development.
            NOTE: Steven Palmer BSc (Hons) MRICS MBEng is an official LandlordZONE Topic Expert and a Director of Davisons Palmer Lim Any advice given by Steven in this Forum is of a general nature only and should not be acted upon without first obtaining advice specific to your problem/situation from a professional.

            Comment


              #7
              THANK YOU, SUPERB REPLY.

              one last question, if the flat build before i bought the flats was not passed by planning and not stamped by the authorities as completed satisfactorily, and my solicitor advised me that they had looked at all the planning etc and it appeard ok and obvousely neglected to mention the flats had not been (as it were sighned off by the authorities) stamped by the planning as ok/meets regs, than would i have a case to sue the solicitors for not advising me correctly of the situation with planning before purchase?

              Comment


                #8
                thank you for your superb responce on my problem i have a question though, if planning perm had not been obtained or obtained but not stamped ie to say it had been completed satisfactorily:

                q1) could this be a case of the builder needing get the final approval/stamped and hasnt done this yet (in which case could i?)

                q2) isnt there something that says that if enough time has passed by then the build would stand without planning ie i know a guy who built an extension to the back of his house without planning permision (25 foot) and said to me that as long as nobody shopped him to the council and they never found out about his extension then after 5 years of the extension bieng built it wouldnt matter, planning couldnt say anything becouse sufficiant time had passed by since. would this be the case with the flats as i know 4 of the 6 flats are around 3 to 4 years old allready, if i wait another year would i be past the councills reach to say anything about the planning permission.?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Shame

                  Originally posted by patel989
                  if i wait another year would i be past the councills reach to say anything about the planning permission.?
                  I think you should contact the council without delay. Don't you feel duty-bound as a citizen? I hope none of the members advocates you breaking the law.

                  You're already in a complicated situation. Why don't you want to solve the problems so that your mind will be at rest?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I think you should contact the council without delay. Don't you feel duty-bound as a citizen? I hope none of the members advocates you breaking the law.

                    You're already in a complicated situation. Why don't you want to solve the problems so that your mind will be at rest?

                    unfortunately the situation is more complicated than you understand, i am mearly asking an answere to a question which will help me buy more time to clear my situation and then give me the option to contact the council afterwards. if as you sugest i contacted the council right now, i would/could end up damaging my current situation and have the council as an added bonus to contend with which would then bring more problems and presures from 2 sides as oposed to one which could end up with me losing everything, this would be like shooting myself in the foot rather than using a little knowledge and time to deal with everything step by step at a suitable pace. im sure you have been in situations where slowing down the pace and knowing the ins and out of the situation have helped you resolve them whilst keeping control of every aspect. i clearly will get in touch with the council at some point but am looking for advise and options i before that in case things do get hairy.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I am mearly asking an answere to a question which will help me buy more time
                      If you do not report the breach to the council and nobody else does then that will buy you time.

                      Of course eventually you will want to sell the property and when the buyers solicitor does his local searches the breach will come to light and you will be hard pushed to sell except at a discount.

                      You would do well to read PPG18

                      http://www.communities.gov.uk/pub/90..._id1144090.pdf

                      Sorting this out is going to be easier the sooner you do it, and may even be very simple and strightforward. Delaying in the hope you will simply get away with it is foolish in the extreme. There is no "time bar" on planning enforcement as you imagine. Nonetheless town planners are not looking to beat people up and if they have no objections to the development the process is very easy.
                      NOTE: Steven Palmer BSc (Hons) MRICS MBEng is an official LandlordZONE Topic Expert and a Director of Davisons Palmer Lim Any advice given by Steven in this Forum is of a general nature only and should not be acted upon without first obtaining advice specific to your problem/situation from a professional.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        than would i have a case to sue the solicitors for not advising me correctly of the situation with planning before purchase?
                        Of course, if the situation is as you describe.
                        NOTE: Steven Palmer BSc (Hons) MRICS MBEng is an official LandlordZONE Topic Expert and a Director of Davisons Palmer Lim Any advice given by Steven in this Forum is of a general nature only and should not be acted upon without first obtaining advice specific to your problem/situation from a professional.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Planning Situation

                          It seems as if there are 6 residential flats with 2 shops under and that the flats have not got planning permission.

                          You need to clarify the situation - what use was in place before the 6 flats were implemented? When were they implemented? Have they been in continuous residential use since that time?

                          These are all crucial questions.... there IS in fact, a time bar on enforcement action, which is 4 years for a self-contained residential use and 10 years for all other uses and building operations... Only listed building enforcement actions have no time limit...

                          It could be that your use is lawful (i.e. more than 4 years old and continuously in C3 use). If not, then it may be perfectly reasonable to grant permission for the 6 flats - you may indeed not have a planning problem.

                          The further point is that enforcement action is not automatic... such action is to each council's discretion... A robust negotiation may well help!!

                          I do hope that helps! I'm sorry I didn't comment any earlier but even busy planning consultants must have a holiday!!

                          Regards,

                          PETER

                          Comment


                            #14
                            thank you Peter (if ever there was a light at the end of the tunnel, youd be holding the torch)

                            very helpfull reply. once again thank you.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              yes there are 6 flats with 2 shops under them, not 100%sure if they have permission as when i bought 2 of them 2 years ago the solicitor didnt mention any outstanding issues or problems she found from doing her searches however when i bought the 3rd one and my brother bought the other 3 i still wasnt told of any issues or problems to worry about (i have the palnning drawings still). a short while later when my brother was asking the solicitor for his paperwork for the flats she mentioned that there might be a problem with the relevant paperwork bieng stamped/passed but has since left the firm of solicitors and every time he asks for copies of the paperwork he gets told it needs to be retrieved from archiving but doesnt recieve any responce back from the solicitors.

                              before the flats were there, the property was bieng used as offices and before i purchased the flats (from auction) they had allready been converted to flats and 2 of them were bieng let (i think from talking to the tennant for around 2 years before i purchased them which would make 2 of the flats at least 4 years old and bieng rented for that period of time too. the others were not rented and have only been in rental for 2 years (since i have had them).
                              by c3 use i take it you mean residential rental usage?

                              once again in advance thank you many times over for the informative responces they have truly been a help.

                              Comment

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