Raising the roof

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the issues of loft conversions
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Loft conversion cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Question: I am the freeholder of a two-storey building consisting of two flats, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor.

The leaseholder of the first-floor flat has asked my approval for a loft conversion consisting of one bedroom, shower and toilet.

Can I refuse? If not, what rights do I have?

Can I quote a price and, if so, who is in a position to value this?

Answer: Who owns the roof space? Is it part of the freehold, which you own? If the roof space is part of the freehold, which is most likely, you will have to consider whether you wish to grant a supplemental lease of the roof space to the owner of the first-floor flat.

You would be able to charge a premium for this and I recommend you take advice from a solicitor regarding the terms of the lease and that you obtain a valuation from an estate agent or surveyor to help you with price. Most leases state that prior written consent of the freeholder is required before any alterations are carried out, and consent must not be unreasonably withheld.

If the loft area is included in the lease of the first-floor flat, you should consider the lessee's drawings and plans, whether a reputable contractor will be doing the work, if the lessee has obtained the necessary building-regulation consent, and planning and listed-building consent, if appropriate.

If the lessee has planned the project properly, it is unlikely that you will be able to withhold consent, though you are most likely able to charge a premium for the sale.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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