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Thomas
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6450
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Can I be sued if I build an extension on my property but dont

Customer Question

Can I be sued if I build an extension on my property but don't get the written permission of the lease holder.
I own the property out right but it's leased at 3 pound a year to a farmer at the top of his road.
I have spoke to the., written to them and showed them drawings of what it will look like.
They live around 200meters away from me and I'm not over looking them, well I can see there cable end
Can they sue me and if so for how much?

Thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.

Hi

Thanks for your question.

To enable me to answer your question could you please respond to the following:-

  • 1. Is there a covenant in your lease which forbids any alterations without the consent of the freeholder

Kind regards.

Tom

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes there is
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Sorry, does it say without the WRITTEN consent of the landlord?

Tom
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
From memory as we don't have the lease in front of us yet - our solicitor acting for the purchase said we cannot make any alterations or extensions to the property without the written consent of the leaseholder. We know without this we are not supposed to go ahead but we are wondering what will happen if we do? Can they sue us and if so how much for? If we can't get their written permission and if going ahead without this would involve us getting sued the only other option would be to buy the lease. We believe we would have to be living there 2 or 3 yrs (being told different things) we then make an offer and if they say they want more it would then go to some sort of arbitration board to decide a fair amount. We are assuming a fair amount would be the remaining amount of time on the lease x the amount due each yr? In our case that would be approx £3000 as a payment. What we are wondering is - if this is about the amount the courts would award the leaseholder with as a compensation payment if we went ahead and did the extent ion and roof terrace anyway we may aswell forget about waiting 2-3 yrs to buy the lease ( which will be useless to us after we have done the work) and just go ahead and don the work? It may seem like we are flaunting the law and being unreasonable but it is they who are being unreasonable as even the architect said there is no privacy issue for them with what we are proposing to do, it is a power thing in that they (or rather the wife!) who is known for being power crazy and obsessed with land!!
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thanks for your question.

If you carried out the works without the written consent of the freeholder then this would be breach of the lease, so they would have a cause of action against you and could therefore sue you.

They would be able to sure for such direct loss as they suffer and could require the reinstatement of the original layout. You would have to pay for this. If there was damage to the building which formed part of the freehold as a result of your works then you would also have to pay the cost of remedial works. This could obviously be very expensiv.

It really isn’t worth it, you need to get a copy of your lease. Check the documents your conveyancing solicitor sent you at the time of your purchase. Alternatively you can call the land registry citing the registered title number of your lease and purchase a copy from them for a fee (around £12-25.00).

It will like say that in respect of the landlord’s consent that they are not allowed to unreasonably withhold or delay their consent, so you should write formally to them requesting consent and referring to this provision once you have received the lease and know which clause to refer to.

The alternative is, as you say, to make an offer for the freehold of the property (perhaps in common with the other leaseholders) so that you are the freeholders and would not therefore object to the works.

My advice would be to press for consent by way of letter , follow up with a solicitor’s letter if the consent is not forthcoming. If they still resist then you may consider making an offer for the freehold.

If this has been useful please kindly click accept so that I may be rewarded for my time. If you do not click accept your money stays with the site and I do not receive any credit for the time I have taken to answer your question.

I will answer your follow up questions you may have.

Kind regards,


Tom
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. Our lease is with our solicitor (who is quite difficult to get hold of!) it is she who told us that yes it states we cannot do alterations etc without leaseholders written consent. We cannot wait 2 yrs to purchase the lease, as we need to do the works this yr so we are able to move in before xmas. Our architect has confirmed there are no privacy issues for the leaseholder and so even if she objected to the plans it wouldn't stand up. So given what the neighbours have said that she is just being spiteful can we not go down the unreasonable with holding of consent route as a counter claim to her suing us for works without consent. Our predicament is, we live in our current home which has just gone on the market, the leasehold property is not habitable at the moment as it needs so much work doing to it. We hoped to get planning permission (architect seems to think it won't be a problem as there are no privacy issues for her) in approx 8-12 wks which takes us to sept time and then get the works done which our builder says will be approx 4-6wks taking us to Oct/nov with us hopefully moving in before xmas. If we have to wait till (hopefully) we get planning permission in 12 weeks time and in the meantime get a buyer for our current home we could well have no-where to live once it's sold. I know one option is to move in and wait 2 yrs till we buy the lease but I could'nt bear living in a building site while the work was being done all around us! As she is IS being unreasonable whats our course of action - make an application to the lands tribunal? And how does that work and how long does it take,a nd what's the chance of getting a positive outcome for us? Many thanks
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

You can order a copy of the Lease from the Land Registry - just call there customer services line.

Check the clause to see if they cannot unreasonably withhold their consent/

I would then speak to a local solicitor and get them to formally request consent for the works and at the same time making them aware that they cannot unreasonably withhold the consent.

If they do not agree then you will have to take the matter to court. If the works are reasonable then they will not be able to object.

I trust this clarifies, if so please click accept.

Kind regards,.

Tom
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX get the lease from our solicitor but I have to go in person as she won't post it in case it gets lost! And yesbour solicitor has said thenlease holder cannot withold her permission unreasonably. I get the feeling with our solicitor either she doesn't want to peruse this with us or isn't able to as it isn't her area of expertise I'm not sure. But what I am sure of is to wait until we have planning permission (12wks)and not do anything in the meantime is too long. Would it not be a better idea to try and get the leasse holder to meet with us when our drawings are done (approx 10 days time) to assess her feelings then before submitting the plans. If she still says no she won't give her written permission who determines she is being unreasonable and how? This is the bit I'm not clear on and what's our course of action then? I know we can buy the lease in 2 yrs time, but we need someone tondetermine she is being unreasonable now and grant us permission to do the works now this yr not in 2 yrs time.
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.

Yes, the best thing you can do is consult with them. You should do this and hopefully it will be fine.


If not you will have to instruct a solicitor in order to determine the reasonableness at couny court OR take the risk and carry out the works and let the chips fall where they may.

please click accept.


Regards,


Tom

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I feel my question has been answered in part but not fully. I need a resolution asap because of reasons previously mentioned (possibility of being homeless!!) yes, the lease states she cannot withold consent unreasonably, problem is she feels her reasons for witholding consent are reasonble and they are: 1) she says she is planning to build a conservatory on the side of her property (neighbours who speak to her on a regular basis say this news ro them) and doesn't want to be overlooked by the roof terrace - currently that side of house has numerous windows all down the side of it so we are already overlooking her! 2) she says the field the roof terrace will overlook (same aspect as described in 1) she sometimes hold fetes in with bouncy castles, trampolines, stalls etc and doesn't want the people being overlooked (neighbours tell us this 'event' has never happen in the last 35yrs!) and finally 3) she says it's not us, as we are obviously very nice people, her worry is if we sell the property future owners may have disco's on the roof terrace and flashing lights!! If she still refuses to give written consent after we present her with the plans (which we expect her to do) and because we need as quick a positive resolution as possible we thought that going down the land tribunal route would be quicker than waiting 2 yrs to buy the freehold but our solicitor says she would not recommend that as it's a risky route and it depends on the court/judge on the day and the ruling could go against us. But surely with everything we have outlined that wouldn't be the case - can you see anything in what we've said that would bring about that outcome? What's the maximum amount of time this route would take, what's our chance of winning, and if we were to succeed could we claim costs from the freeholder as this is something we would outline ro her prior to going down this route.
Expert:  Thomas replied 3 years ago.
With respect, if you want resolution "asap" then you need to instruct a local solicitor directly - this is a general legal advice forum, not a specific one.

It does sound as if she is being unreasonable but I hope you appreciate that I cannot be certain without having specifically seen the title/lease, site plans etc. It would be folly for me to give an indication of success on the basis of the information before me presently.

You need to get your solicitor to specifically request consent via plans. If this is not forthcoming then you need to apply to court. the length of time it takes would depend on how contentious the matter is and how busy the court is but I doubt it would be less than 8-12 weeks,

I have answer your question to the best of my ability on the basis of the information provided. I should be grateful if you would now kindly click accept. If you do not click accept then your deposit simply stays with the website and I receive no credit for the time I have taken to answer your question, which is considerably more than I usually devote to questions with the amount of deposit for this one.

Kind regards,

Tom
Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 6450
Experience: BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
Thomas and 4 other UK Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.Just feel the last part of my question was not answered fully. I need a solicitor with experience of dealing with breach of lease when it is the leasee in breach. Thanks. Should have added - I need to know what is the likelihood of leaseholders such as myself being sued? Are there any case studies I could refer to? Has any of the just ask me solicitors got experience of representing a case like mine? The botXXXXX XXXXXne is....whatbis the worst that can happen if I go ahead with the planned alterations and what is the likelihood sanctions will be carried out? Many thanks.

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