Extending upwards and downwards

It is becoming increasingly common for householders to improve their current property rather than incur the stress and expense of moving.  Some are in the fortunate position of being about to create a basement or loft extension.

Whether the householder owns the freehold or a leasehold interest, such work may involve the need for planning permission and building regulations consent.  In addition, if work might affect a neighbouring property, it will be necessary to serve party wall notices.

But if the householder wants to carry out work to their leasehold flat, there are additional important considerations to take into account.

It is very important to check the terms of the lease to ensure that the extent of the property includes the area into which the householder wants to extend.  Just because someone is in a top floor flat, this does not automatically mean that they can extend into the roof space.  Similarly, to extend downwards into a basement, the property description in the lease would have to include the 'subsoil'.  If the lease is not clear on these issues, it might be necessary to obtain the consent of the landlord to amend the lease to include the relevant area.  If agreement cannot be reached, a court may have to look at the whole lease to try to decide the intention of the parties when in the lease was made.

In addition to these issues, it is highly likely that a long lease of a flat will require the tenant to obtain the landlord's consent for any structural changes to the property in any event.

So there are a lot of hurdles to climb before work can start. If these are not properly dealt with, the landlord could take action for breach of the terms of the lease.  Failure to properly deal with these issues could make the sale of the flat very difficult.

These issues are just as relevant when someone us buying a long lease of a flat.  If extending the property is something that the householder might want to do, it is vital to ensure that the lease is drafted to allow this to happen.

Before you spend any money on architect's fees, take legal advice to check the terms of your lease.

To discuss this or any other property related issue, contact us.

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