Answer: You need to ask for a copy of the lease, and then read it carefully — in particular the description of what is known as the “demised premises”, ie the flat. Does the description include the roof? It probably won’t.
Before anything else, get a surveyor to look at the roof and determine if it can be converted and if planners are likely to give you permission to do so.
If it is possible to convert the attic, ask the selling agents to find out whether the landlord/freeholder would be interested in selling the attic to you. Do not be surprised if the cost of purchasing the attic is considerable.
Many landlords/freeholders will want to see drawings and get a report confirming that a conversion won’t damage the rest of the building. And they will ask for their legal costs to be covered.
What is more, the premium payable could be something like 50 per cent of the enhanced value of the flat — clearly the flat will be worth more with an attic conversion and so the landlord may ask you to get a valuation showing the market value of the flat as it is now, and what it is likely to be worth after the conversion is complete.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.