Question: We bought a ground-floor flat last year and intend to knock down two walls, extend the kitchen and install an en suite shower room. There are four flats in the block. This is our first home and building project - what consents do we need?
Answer: Look at the terms of your lease. As you wish to extend the kitchen you need to check whether you own the land you intend to build on. Some ground-floor flats have the exclusive right to use a garden but have no leasehold interest in it.
There is likely to be a covenant stating that prior written consent of the freeholder must be obtained before you carry out any structural alterations or additions to the property. Even if you own a share of the freehold, it is still very important to obtain the formal written consent of the freeholder.
I presume that in view of the extent of the work you intend to carry out, you have consulted either an architect or a surveyor. When you write to the freeholder asking for consent to alter your flat, you should attach the drawings that have been prepared by your architect or surveyor.
You will need to obtain building regulations approval and possibly planning permission, and of course if your flat is in a listed building you will require listed building consent.
The freeholder may agree to the alterations subject to these consents being granted.
Once you have the written consent of the freeholder, ensure you keep that document safe. This is because if you decide to sell the flat at some stage in the future, a buyer's solicitor is likely to ask to see the freeholder's written consent in addition to the usual planning and building regulation approvals.
WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?
If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (www. ).
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.