Can the freeholder demolish the wall of the garden for parking?

I bought a leasehold maisonette a few years ago and I knew the title deeds did not include the front garden. Can the freeholder just demolish the front wall to use the garden for parking?

Question: I bought a leasehold maisonette a few years ago and I knew the title deeds did not include the front garden. However, the garden has been fenced, presumably since the Thirties when the property was built. I rent out the maisonette and my tenants have always maintained the garden. I discovered the freeholder was trying to sell the front garden for off-street parking a while ago. I spoke to the estate agent, who refused to divulge the name of the freeholder's solicitors. Can the freeholder, who has never spoken to me about this, just demolish the front wall to use the garden for parking? 

Answer: First speak to the agents to establish the current position regarding the proposed sale. If the reply is unsatisfactory, contact the freeholder directly to find out their true intentions. Also, consider the terms of your lease. You may have an exclusive right to use the front garden, and there may be covenants stating it can be used only as a private garden.

A search of the index map at the Land Registry will show whether the title to the garden is registered, and who is the registered proprietor. If the garden is not registered, ask the freeholder to show you their title deeds to prove they own it. To demolish a wall and construct a parking space, planning permission and building regulations approval are likely to be required, and if it is necessary to drop the kerb for access from the road, the highways authority will need to be involved and approve the works.
 


WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM? 
If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (withyking.co.uk).

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.


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