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Freeholder trying to change terms of a signed agreement - can they?

Hey, will try to keep this as brief as possible. I am a Leaseholder of a flat, and recently arranged a 'Pet Licence' with the building's Freeholder giving me permission to keep pets (a dog) in my flat, as my Lease prohibits this unless the landlord gives consent.

The Licence was prepared by the Freeholder's managing agent, and I was sent two copies to sign - one copy for me to keep and the other to return. The copies were both already signed by the freeholder (specifically, their management agent acting for them). I signed, returned one to them and they confirmed receipt.

They have just now (almost a month later) decided that they want to change the terms of the Licence - can they do this, bearing in mind that they have already signed it? Surely their signature on the original document means they have already agreed to the terms within it and they cannot now change it without agreement of all signatories - and I am not going to agree. It is my understanding that once a contract/agreement is signed by all parties, that's it - you're all bound to the terms within it and you can't backtrack with more revisions.
The change they want to make is extremely unreasonable - they want the Licence to be time-based, in that it expires after a year and is renewable at their "discretion". We originally told them point blank we would not agree to this - its unreasonable to give someone permission to get a dog for 1 year and leave them open to you telling them a year later to get rid of it! We negotiated to get this removed from the Licence, with it to be for the "life of the pet" - and that is the version we then all signed.

I suspect they are doing this because of complaints against one of their tenants (who also happens to be their son!). He has caused massive problems to everyone in the building by running a delivery business from his flat. Though I did not personally submit a complaint, I know at least one other person in the building has. Their decision to try and change our Licence comes on the heels of this and it feels very much like a spiteful attempt to hit out at everyone.

Can anyone give me some reassurance on this? I have written to my solicitor asking for advice also, but am distraught with worry over this (I cannot imagine having to give up my dog in a year on the whim of these people! :( ). Many thanks in advance :)

Replies

  • coolttcooltt Forumite
    852 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Calm down Flo nothing to worry about, freeholders agent is trying it on.

    Unless there is a clause in the Licencee that specifically says they can amend it at any time, then it's breach of contract if they try to amend it without your consent. Then threaten court action if they persist.

    With regards to delivery business, what does the leasehold say about running a business from your address? I doubt very much it allows it. It's also likely the flat is mortgaged, Find out who with via the land registry title deed and inform the mortgage lender that a business is being run from the dwelling. (anonymous of course).
  • statorstator Forumite
    7.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    If it's signed by both parties then you are correct you can refuse any amendments.
    Tell them to take a running jump off a steep cliff.
    Changing the world, one sarcastic comment at a time.
  • Flo28Flo28 Forumite
    5 Posts
    Thank you for your replies, cooltt and stator. That is reassuring, and confirms what I was thinking.

    Regarding the guy running a business, this is indeed prohibited by the lease. It has been conveniently overlooked for almost a year since he started, because as I said one of the directors of the freehold company is his mother. He has caused many issues and a lot of tension over this time though, first filling the communal hallway with mountains of parcels, then moving to littering the communal space outside with them when he was told to stop. We have also had other residents within the cul-de-sac complaining about the absolutely massive commercial delivery trucks which arrive every day, backing up onto curbs and gardens. One of our neighbours in the building recently get fed up and submitted a formal complaint to their managing agent, hence why we think they are now trying to punish us all with this Licence thing. Its good to know that they cannot threaten us with that. Apparently since the formal complaint, he is being "dealt with in the appropriate way", though god knows what that means! I sincerely doubt it will stick, considering who his parents are and the way that leasehold is so open to abuse by freeholders.

    Interesting information regarding the mortgage. I'll look into it!
  • Flo28Flo28 Forumite
    5 Posts
    Just to update - my solicitor has already responded and confirmed that the freeholder cannot renege on the terms agreed, and has given me a concise reply to send to the agent.

    A small victory for downtrodden leaseholders everywhere! :j
  • vuvuzelavuvuzela Forumite
    3.6K Posts
    Flo28 wrote: »
    Just to update - my solicitor has already responded and confirmed that the freeholder cannot renege on the terms agreed, and has given me a concise reply to send to the agent.

    A small victory for downtrodden leaseholders everywhere! :j

    I know what I'd like the concise reply to be - is it simply 2 words, the second being 'off' ?
    ;)
  • Though as it's from a solicitor it's probably something along the lines of "We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram."
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