UK Property Law
Get UK Property Law Questions Answered by Experts
Thanks for your question.
There will probably be a clause in your son's lease fairly early in the leasehold covenants which he is bound to observe stating that he is "not to make any structural alterations or structural additions to the Demised Premises or remove ay of the Lessor's (landlord's) fixtures without the prior consent in writing of the landlord".
The works would be caught by such a clause and he would have to speak with the lessor/manging agents about obtaining their consent. This will probably be in the form of a licence to carry out works and would describe those works in appropriate detail. Your son would then be able to carry out only those works in the licence. He should keep the licence itself as he will need to produce this to the eventual purchaser of the flat when he comes to sell.
Check the lease, ask the solicitor if it is caught by the specific clause but I would probably expect it to be caught. It should not be too difficult getting consent but invariably a managing agent will charge a fee for the licence.
These are the vagaries of a leasehold flat and the solicitor who acted for your son would probably have reported this to you son prior to exchange of contracts.
If this is useful please kindly click accept so that I may be rewarded for my time. It will be gratefully received and you will be free to ask follow up questions.
Just a small further observation on these "alterations" as proposed.
I remember when my son was in the process of purchasing the flat, his solicitor described the concept of Lease in the following words(approx.):-
"think of the building as an egg; the Landlord takes responsibility for the shell; you (the Leaseholder takes responsibility for the inside of the egg".
I find it more than a little confusing if the removal of a shower cubicle.the construction of a simple alcove cupboard and the fitting of an overbath shower could even loosely be regarded as "the shell of the building" ? If they do, then surely the Landlord then becomes responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the shower cubicle ?(which incidentally does not work !)
I look forward to your final comment on the above, at which point I will release the fee as agreed.
The solicitors explanation is a simplistic explanation of the concept, but is essentially correct. You son's responsibility is for his flat but this responsibility is not an isolated one - the lessor retains an element of control by including this covenant in the lease so that the development as a whole remain desirable and consistent.
I would be surprised if the solicitor had not explained the set up in more details circumstances to your son frankly.
The cubicle is not part of the "shell" it is part of the flat which your son is bound to maintain. The lessor will be bound to maintain the structural integrity of the building and good repair of the common parts.
You may consider the application of it to your son's works to be overkill - and I would be inclined to agree - but the alternative potential result of carrying out the works is that the lessor insists that consent should have been obtained then goes through the process of gaining retrospective consent (if they agree) and then billing your son for the costs of discovering, investigating and obtaining the consent.
If they do not find out about non-consented works then the issue could arise in the form of an awkward pre-contract enquiry of any purchaser of the flat and then require retro-consent.
Again, it's the vagaries of owning a flat of this type but you simply do not know for sure if consent is required until you consult the lease and his conveyancer.
Hope this clarifies.