Unconsenting adults

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the issue of gaining consent from other freeholders for extensions to property
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Freeholder consent cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Question: I own the ground-floor flat in a house divided into three. Each flat-owner has an equal share of the freehold. I want to extend our property at the back but our lease states that any alterations need the permission of the freeholders.

One of the other owners objects, claiming excess light and noise from the extension would impact on the enjoyment of her flat.

She is also selling it, so doesn't want to have to declare my intentions and has asked me not to put anything in writing. She has never asked to discuss my plans. Where do I stand if she is refusing consent without valid reason?

Answer: If you do not get the consent of all the freeholders, action could be taken against you for breaching the terms of the lease, including a requirement to remove the extension. If you build without consent and then sell your flat in the future you may have difficulties because you could not show that the necessary consent had been given.

You should see if your lease provides that consent must not be unreasonably withheld. If your lease does include such a provision, you can argue that your neighbour is being unreasonable in failing to consent to your extension.

Even if the lease does not have the unreasonableness provision, reasonableness may be implied by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927, but it would be advisable to instruct a solicitor to argue this for you.

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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