Reconverting single flat back to two flats – planning permission and mortgage queries

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    Reconverting single flat back to two flats – planning permission and mortgage queries

    Hi all,

    Apologies if my circumstances are covered elsewhere in other threads, but I've scoured this forum without finding anything that relates specifically to my situation.

    Several years ago, I purchased a flat that had been converted from two flats into one. I am now thinking of selling and – having seen the price that studio and one-bedroom flats go for in the block – think it would make sense to convert the flat back into two. (It would also sort out all the service charge wrangles I've had over my time as owner then landlord of the property, given that on the lease it remains as two flats, paying two shares in, for example, the communal heating system).

    Essentially, I have two questions:

    1. If the flats created by this work are precisely the same as they were before they were combined, do I need to have planning permission and/or architects' plans?

    2. A more general one, this: do I need to inform the mortgage provider (I have a quite hefty buy-to-let mortgage on the flat) that I am doing the work? And will I need to have two mortgages for the interim between the work being completed and the flats being sold?

    Many thanks for any guidance anyone can offer,

    SN

    #2
    Your first concern is to assertain from the freeholder, if the freeholder gave permission to convert 2 flats into one, and for someone to buy 2 flats and then make one out of the two would seem unlikely.

    A) Either the freeholder carried out the conversion, and if so, you need the freeholders permission to alter the flat and to alter the number of flats in the building..

    B) If the flat was converted without the freeholders permission, he/she is entitled to force you to convert back into 2 flats.

    Get all that sorted out first before proceeding.

    Comment


      #3
      If you convert them back to 2 units, are you planning on selling the flats separately or as one unit? If you are planning on selling them separately, how are they registered at Land Registry - one or two titles and does each flat have their own lease?

      Comment


        #4
        Hi Ram,

        Thanks for your reply. The flats are all share of freehold, so it's likely there was some sort of vote – it should be easy enough to check whether permission was given. That said, I'm not sure of the date of conversion, but it was some time ago!

        I will investigate. I plan to divide the flats as they originally were. As it stands, the flat has two leases and pays two lumps of service charge rather than one combined one.

        Thanks again,

        SN

        Comment


          #5
          Hi bbva,

          Thanks for coming back to me. I'm planning on selling the flats as two separate units. The flats still have two separate leases, but I suppose that doesn't necessarily mean they are still registered separately with Land Registry? I will investigate that. Presumably, if they are still registered as two separate units, there's no real admin to take care of before I go ahead with the conversion?

          Thanks again,

          SN

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by snowball8a View Post
            there's no real admin to take care of before I go ahead with the conversion?
            Yes there is.
            You have to advise the mortgage co what you intend to do with the property that they lent you the money for. As they have a say in what you can do to the property that they basicly own until your mortgage is paid off.

            You have to ask the freeholder if you can put the flat / flats back the way they were, two flats instead of one.
            You are making alterations for which you NEED the freeholders permission to do so.
            Does not matter what the alterations is, but adding an extra flat definitely requires freeholder approval.

            You have the advantage that there are already 2 leases, and on the admin side, that is already in in hand so a simple conversion back to two will save much legal re-writing of leases.
            I assume the leases were not altered to show one flat, otherwise you would only have one lease showing the total area of your flat.
            As you say, you have 2 leases, so it was not done correctly ( leases and floor plan ) in the first place, to have just one lease, but that now helps you to just get approval, and get the two flats as per the two leases, and job done, no need to change the leases at much solicitors cost.

            Comment


              #7
              Look up the address on Land Registry. You will see immediately if there are one or two titles. Downloading a title is £3

              Comment


                #8
                When you purchased, what did your solicitor say about the fact there were 2 leases. It sounds to me like you purchased 2 seperate leasehold properties. In this case changing them back to as stated on the leases should not require freeholder permission. Check the land registry as others have said.

                Comment


                  #9
                  It sounds as if the previous lessee changed the flat layout without the freeholders permission, which is why you have 2 leases.

                  Suggest you tread carefully.
                  On the one hand, you can just simply revert back to the original plans, original flat numbers, and the freeholder will be none the wiser.
                  * On the other, the freeholder may have given permission but was not educated to the fact that a new and replacement lease was required, and freeholder does not want it to revert back to 2 flats.*

                  Butter up the freeholder, to ensure changing back is o.k.
                  But you have 2 leases for two flats, so freeholder can't realy argue with you, at a push

                  But again, you don't know the story, and we are all guessing what went on, but seems you are safe to convert back to 2 flats.
                  Just be aware that sentence *--* may be an issue ( and a lot of verbal fighting may ensue, but seems you have 2 leases to argue your case )

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks Ram,

                    It's nice to have a bit of a reassurance, even if it comes with a caveat! We DO have two leases and, while it was flagged up by my solicitor, it wasn't deemed a problem (if I was happy with the slightly inflated service charge). One of the reasons I want to convert it back, however, is that I'm hoping to sell – and I expect not all solicitors will be so blasé.

                    If anything, the freeholder (ie the management company to which we all contribute) has resisted creating a new lease, as it would almost certainly mean reducing my payments (and, therefore, upping everyone else's share in the block).

                    Thanks again,

                    SN

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by snowball8a View Post
                      freeholder (ie the management company ) has resisted creating a new lease,
                      Change your sentence to
                      "freeholder (ie the management company ) has refused creating a new lease."

                      If the are resisting, they are refusing until forced to cease resisting.

                      convert back to two flats, get the right numbers on the doors, and hey presto.
                      2 LEGAL leases exist for which the freeholder wishes to continue as such.

                      Just sell the two leases and freeholder cannot object.
                      Freeholder will be happy that 2 lots of service charges are still coming in.
                      Freeholder will be happy he does not have a fight on his hands anymore.
                      Freeholder cannot object to you supplying that which is stated in the lesase
                      lease1, one single flat, with x% of the service charges
                      Lease2, one single flat, with x% of the service charges

                      You sell the leases, not the flats.
                      So if the flats mirror the lease, you have no problems whatsoever, you have sold exactly what is described in the lease.

                      Go ahead, convert back to original plans
                      Job done.

                      Don't forget to tell all residents that some building work may be getting done and apologise in advance if builders park or obstuct the residents inadvertantly, for which the residents are encouraged to tell them to move their vehicles.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I would convert to 2 flats and sell them seperately. The freeholder cannot prevent you from selling what you hold, which is 2 seperate leasehold properties, albeit 2 which have been 'temporarily' linked.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Have you checked with Land Registry yet?

                          You may want to speak to the Buidling Regs as re-instating stuff like soil stacks may require their approval.

                          Comment

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