Loft Conversion Consent holding up sale

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    Loft Conversion Consent holding up sale

    Hi all,

    Have been in the process of buying a flat that I want to convert from a two bedroom to a three bedroom. All the paperwork is complete, I am holding out on the consent to convert the loft before I exchange. The freeholder is based in Turkey and after two months I have not got an answer on consent either way.

    The lease states "The Lessor Hereby Demises unto the tenant all that maisonette with the front and rear staircase leading thereto being on the first floor of the building including the roof and roof timbers and one half part in depth of the structure between the floors of the maisonette and the ceilings of the lower maisonette from the same level".

    In regards to conversion "Not to make any structural alterations or structural additions to the maisonette without previous consent in writing of the lessor".

    The plan is to lose one of the bedrooms downstairs and create two additional bedrooms upstairs with a bathroom. I have already provided the drawings from my architect to the other parties solicitor.

    My concern is that I exchange and the freeholder holds out for money or can slow the process up for whatever reason. By waiting to get consent, the pressure is on the seller as the property is vacant. My ultimate question is what can the freeholder obstruct the work on and can she ask for any money for this besides legal fees?

    Thanks in advance!

    Under the leasehold system, the seller of the leasehold flat can only sell you the lease of the existing flat.

    If the freehold title is owned by another party, who is not obliged to reply as you are not the tenant ; so you should understand that the seller of flat lease has no power to give you any consent to alter.


      Hi Gordon,

      Yes the freeholder is different. The freeholder has replied to other questions regarding the property. She has not responded to this one. Effectively are you saying only the seller/leaseholder/tenant can get consent to convert? As such two possible outcomes:

      1: The tenant gets written consent for the work to be done, since she is the tenant currently and has a right of reply. It is not her decision, but she has more sway regarding the question.
      2: I exchange and then discover that the freeholder wants to obstruct the work

      It sounds like I should have stuck to freehold properties as I have done in the past and I should walk away from this one.


        Note that consent to alter the loft, is only given to the holder of the lease, and that will be the selller.
        The seller will have permission, but you wont.

        Once bought, you will / may have to ask for consent as the new holder of the lease, or the seller gets consent, with the added phrase, and consent to alter is given also to the next tenant leaseholder, named "Mr. Nomadiclord"



          Thanks for the response. It is an avenue I can pursue further as well. What I am unsure on is what grounds a freeholder can refuse permission. Under law, the freeholder cannot unreasonably with-hold consent, and my question is around what grounds are reasonably. So as an example, if the planning office gives permitted development or planning permission to proceed with the work, what grounds could the freeholder have?


            the freeholder cannot unreasonably with-hold consent.
            Provided the request is not unreasonable.

            It seems your demise, includes use of the loft space, only by the fact that it says, Roof and roof timbers.
            ( don't forget that when it needs a new roof and slates ( far, in the future ) it's at your cost, and no one elses, nor divided by the number of leaseholders.)

            Please remember that planning permission has nothing to do with who owns the land, or building or lease. It's just that the council have no objection to a conversion in that house in that area.

            A council approval does not override a lease in any way shape or form.
            I could apply to the council to build a multi story car park in your large rear garden, stating there is a shortage of parking spaces, and this will ease traffic.
            If the council like the idea - etc, etc, I could get planning permission, but it wont over ride the fact that I don't own the land and wont get permission from the freeholder.

            Then the battle begins between the land owner / the freeholder etc.
            The freeholder may object that the joists are not stong enough, or that they do not want the original layout to be changed.

            If the freeholder does not reply, you can not force a reply if you are the buyer wishing to convert after the sale, but the reply could come back, "Well, when you are the owner of the lease, come ask me, but at present you are not the owner of the lease, therefore go away."

            And yes, the freeholder will want money to engage their own surveyours to look over the plans, and maybe solicitors to engage a surveyor, all of which you will have to pay for, as if the freeholder is just a retired school teacher, they will have no expertise in conversions, so they have to engage solicitors.

            I think you are at an impass until you buy the lease, then you can force the leaseholder for a reply.

            his / her reply may not be what you want, but until you get a reply, once you have a lease, not much more we can tell you.

            Watch this space as they say.


              Hi Ram,

              Thanks for the comprehensive reply. To be clear, when I say money, I mean money to convert the loft. I completely understand paying for solicitors fees and surveys. If the freeholder turns around and says they want £20K "just because" to convert the loft, that is a different matter.

              In regards to not wanting the layout to change, I don't believe that would be reasonable. Having concerns over structural work is a different matter. The question of course is what is determined as reasonable and what is not.

              Thanks again.


                Hi both! Another question you may be able to help with.

                Any idea what is a rough cost the L can charge for consent/License to Alter the loft, apart from 'admin fees'? I've looked online and result I come up with a fairly outdated and mostly refer to the admin fees discussed above. Ideally, I'd like to include any such extra cost in my weighing in of whether to proceed or not.

                Many thanks!


                  To LeaseholdAnswers you quoted this below. From reading this, I understand the below. What I am trying to understand is that can a premium be charged outside of the fees listed below. The lease includes the roof and the loft space.

                  Also to add, the lease has just been extended to 159 years from 69. So the freeholder has just got a windfall already. The lease, written in 1984, seems to be the same and was not updated. I believe this won't go through until the sale completes, so can I ask the seller to modify the lease to get the clause inserted?

                  Would really appreciate an answer on this as we have to make a decision on how to proceed tomorrow or pull out of the purchase

                  E Why Do I have to Pay Fees or costs

                  1 In some cases a landlord may charge a premium or fee (not fees see 2 below)
                  - For their waiver or consent to work or conversion where it involves an item or area which is reserved or prohibited absolutely or where no rights exist or are limited e.g. converting a loft or basement or moving a wall or changing a window to a patio door, permitting wooden floors where carpet is required, running services in a loft, or putting a deck on a flat roof.
                  As they need not give permission in these instances, bear in mind that their behaviour fee or premium is not restricted nor has to be reasonable.

                  -Where the works that you will carry out will reduce or damage the reversion of the property to him, such as converting a 2 bed flat into an open studio or going from 2 to 1 bathroom, merging two flats into one or changing the specification of fittings e.g. bath and kitchen and services to a minimum and reducing the saleability and value of the flat.

                  2 Even if the lease is silent on costs that are professional fees of an agent surveyor engineer or solicitor, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 allows for the reasonable fees to be recovered or granting consent under leases.

                  As the landlord has to protect their reversion the building itself and the interests of other users, they are, as above, right to incur their own legal advice, surveyors engineers and agents to deal with this.

                  Some “pile on fees” that are not fully justified, & some may charge a token amount for a cursory exchange of letters/email. Each case has it be judged on its merits on the maxim “who, why, what for, and how much” with due regard to knowledge of the skills work and costs thereof rather than “what you think”.

                  As to what extent these are reasonable can be determined at the Tribunal under Sch 11 of CLRA 2002. If the delay unreasonably the county or high court can deal with applications to grant consent and award damages.

                  And don’t forget to budget for the fees and costs from skip licences to local authority fees and VAT.


                    Everything that Ram says should be taken into account, plus:

                    Your proposed work will give rise to an uplift in the value of the leasehold of the upper maisonette - maybe an uplift of tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds, depending on the details and the area.

                    The freeeholder may well want his own cut of your gain - typically about half I'd'd think.
                    This would be charged to you as the price of giving the consent to alter. So if the value of the leasehold maisonette rises by £70,000 because of the extra room, the freeholder might want £35,000 as a condition of giving consent. But he won't talk to you yet, as there is no formal reason to do so.
                    Last edited by Sad S; 22-07-2015, 12:05 PM. Reason: typo


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