Question: I own an upstairs flat and the freeholder owns the flat downstairs. He has agreed to extend the lease term on my flat from the 75 years that currently remain to 99 years. As I cannot pay anything, he has agreed to accept the transfer of my garden to him.
© Merrily Harpur
He has said that as part of the deal I have to erect a gate blocking my existing access to the garden. This doesn't seem fair to me. What do you think?
Answer: There are statutory rules that govern the rights of flat owners to extend the terms of their leases. From what you say, it appears that you have negotiated a deal which is outside these rules and, as a consequence, your landlord can try and impose whatever conditions he wants on you with regard to the lease.
You cannot insist on any conditions unless you use the statutory machinery, which would require you to pay a premium but would give you an additional 90 years on the term of your lease. Your flat will certainly be more marketable, and probably increase in value, with an additional 90 years on the term of the lease (while, by contrast, losing your garden is likely to reduce your flat's market value).
There may be a chance of you raising the money needed to cover the premium (which would be payable to your landlord, the freeholder) by obtaining a small mortgage. This would then be completed at the same time as your lease is extended. From what you have said, I don't think the deal on offer is a very good one for you and you should explore the possibility of utilising your statutory rights.
This is a complex area and you should seek advice from a lawyer and/or a surveyor who specialies in this area.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
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.