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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 24527
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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Permission to change Soil stack in shared building

Resolved Question:

I am leaseholder in an upper flat of a shared building with planning permission and permission from the Freeholder to change the layout. I have moved the bathroom, and found that the soil stack for the new toilet position is an open gully type, and needs to be changed to a closed type to comply with Building Regulations. Another leaseholder on the ground floor is refusing permission to access and change the soilstack which will involve some digging in his garden. It seems from my lease that external pipework is the remit of the freeholder. Can the Freeholder enforce the change to the soil stack despite the objections of the ground floor leaseholder ?

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 1 year ago.

Joshua :

Thanks for your question. Please kindly RATE my answer when you are satisfied

Joshua :

Do you know if the garden is demised to the leaseholder downstairs or whether he simply has rights to use the garden in his lease please?

Joshua :

Is the freeholder prepared to cooperate in principle or do you think he / it will be difficult?

Customer:

I believe that the garden is demised to the leaseholder.

Joshua :

Thanks. The external and communal pipes will likely fall to the freehold to maintain under the lease - the lease will confirm the landlords responsibilities. However maintaining does not extend to improvements and accordingly the landlord is not under and aobligatino to improve however if he is content to do so he will likely ask you to contribute to or pay for the improvements.

Joshua :

If the landlord is prepared to assist there will likely be provisions in the lease for him to enter onto the ground floor owners garden to install and maintain pipes and drainage as necessary. Almost all leases contain such provisions.

Joshua :

If the ground floor owner under such circumstances is not prepared to allow access a court order can be sought to order access. Any damage caused to his garden will need to be made good.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Thanks you very much for this response and it sounds like you have captured the key elements. My lease does have a provision for the Freeholder to enter upon the other leasehold

Customer:

flats.

Joshua :

That is quite usual. If all else fails if you are not planning on selling your flat for 12 months building regulations are only enforceable for 12 months and if it is case whereby this issue is likely to prevent you installing a new bathroom you could decide to proceed regardless on the basis that building regulations cannot be enforced after 12 months. This is not a preference but could potentially be a fallback to consider

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

Customer:

You're too quick - still typing :o) The bit that is of concern would be that the landlord appears to be under no obligation to improve. If the landlord is reluctant to enact these improvements (and we would of course pay for them) is there anything that we can do (legally or otherwise) to force him ? The point is that he has permitted us to make the bathroom changes (we paid for the change to the lease) but we have only just found out about the problem with the soil stack at the end of the building works.

Customer:

Not sure what you mean with the 12-month. It would not be legal to connect the toilet to the soil stack in its current configuration as it falls foul of building regulations. The ground floor leaseholder has already picked up on that point.

Joshua :

The council only have 12 months to enforce building regulations against you. After that time BRs can only be enforced by the council if they can show an installation is dangerous.

Joshua :

A landlord cannot be forced to improve as opposed to maintain.

Joshua :

I will be logging off shortly. Is there anything further I can assist you with before I go?

Customer:

You've been incredibly helpful. Just to get my bearings on the points about the 12-month. If we do connect the toilet to the existing open soil stack (which is not proper per building regs) it is 100% likely that the ground floor leaseholder will notice and report this. But you are saying that if we wait 12 months before using this construction it would be tolerated as it's then been in place for over 12 months and would only be assessed on how dangerous it is ? Apologies for the detail...

Joshua :

To be clear. The council can only enforce building regulations for a period of 12 months from the date of completion of works. It is unlikely that the council will be concerned about a bathroom installation in any event unless the installation of the new toilet causes a nuisance in terms of smell for example.

Joshua :

Ideally you would seek the freeholders assistance in modifying the existing installation but if not rather than the only alternative being not installing your new bathroom, you may consdier the above rather more cavalier approach of going ahead in breach of building regs and relying on the fact that the council are unlikely to enforce BRs for a bathroom and after 12 months the installation is immune from enforcement.

Customer:

I see - that's a helpful overview of the options. I think the smell bit will become an issue, and the gnd floor leaseholder is very vocal, so as you say the primary course is convincing the Freeholder to support the improvement work.

Customer:

Joshua - you've been incredibly helpful - many thanks !!!

Customer:

We battle on - as they say....

Joshua :

If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me

Customer:

Thanks !

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though.

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 24527
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
Joshua and other UK Property Law Specialists are ready to help you

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