Extensions can be a great way to add value to your property. This month, Ross discusses the legal considerations…
I want to extend my leasehold property. Do I need the freeholder’s permission?
You will need to check your lease to see if there is a clause prohibiting any improvements or alterations to the property, or allowing them with the freeholder’s consent.
If no such clause exists, you are free to make any changes you wish, subject to the usual planning controls imposed by your local council.
It is likely there will be a clause relating to improvements or alterations in your lease. Its purpose is to protect the freeholder from any unwelcome changes to the property and ensure he or she does not have to compensate you for improvements when the lease expires.
If your lease stipulates that the freeholder’s permission is required to extend, The Landlord and Tenant Act states consent must not be withheld unreasonably in the case of improvements. This means the freeholder cannot deny you consent without a valid objection, although a reasonable sum can be charged to cover any legal expenses incurred.
I would strongly recommend asking your solicitor to check if there are any clauses in your lease regarding extensions to the property before you start the work.
The property I am buying has planning permission for a large extension. Can I build the extension after my purchase is complete?
Basically, the answer is yes, provided the permission is still within the time limit stated. You will, however, need to ascertain whether the consent is for outline or full planning permission.
Outline permission can be subject to conditions and reserved matters, which are to be resolved to the satisfaction of the local council. These often relate to the external appearance of the extension or means of access. If they exist, a full application will be necessary to obtain approval of the proposals.
Often, outline planning permission is sought first to see if the council will allow the work to take place, without having to prepare detailed plans, which are expensive.
If full planning permission has been granted, there may still be conditions and the work itself must usually start within the time set out in the consent.
The vendor may let you have the plans and any builders’ estimates they have obtained. You should check before using them, however, whether the architect who prepared them owns the copyright, as you may also need his or her consent.