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Loft conversion only for storage purposes

Hello all, 

Would love to get some expert opinion on a matter. I am in the process of buying a flat with loft conversion. It is a share of freehold - effectively a leasehold - and I will be a director in the freeholder company. The flat includes a loft conversion on the top floor. The lease (deed of variation) & our solicitor indicates that we have the full ownership and the loft conversion has been done with necessary permits and building regulations by the council. 

However, the deed of variation to the lease states that the loft space has been included in the property but the lease requires it to be used only for storage purposes, this is definitely not the case when this was marketed to us as an additional bedroom, a decent one to be honest. It even has a small toilet. 

I raised this to the solicitor but I am curious a) why do you think the lease (deed of variation) has this restriction? b) the current owner provided us with a leasehold restrictive covenant insurance as they violated this, however if I want to rent this property in the future, I cannot market as a 2 bedroom, right? What if someone dies in there or get injured? 

I am very puzzled and any help is really appreciated.


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  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,359
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    What if someone dies in there or get injured?

    What do you mean? Why are they going to die in there and not elsewhere in the flat, and why do you think it makes a difference?

    I'm not sure how much the indemnity insurance helps you if you're both (part) freeholder and leaseholder (as normally the insurance wouldn't be valid against action by the freeholder if they were made aware by the leaseholder of the problem).
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,767
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    Does it have the correct fire door? and all the other restrictions that apply to a property with an extra floor? It may be that classifying it as a bedroom has implications for rules on eg smoke detectors to other floors, fire doors to other flats in the building etc whereas calling it storage only, means these rules don't apply.
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  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,649
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    Would you not need to ask the freeholders why they put that restriction on the lease?

    It may not have anything to do with the planning/building control.
  • user1977 said:

    What if someone dies in there or get injured?

    What do you mean? Why are they going to die in there and not elsewhere in the flat, and why do you think it makes a difference?

    I'm not sure how much the indemnity insurance helps you if you're both (part) freeholder and leaseholder (as normally the insurance wouldn't be valid against action by the freeholder if they were made aware by the leaseholder of the problem).
    It would legally make a difference if I rent this property as a 2 bedroom. It is an unlikely event but for example if someone dies/injured as a result of a fire/smoke in the building while sleeping in the loft conversion... As my deed of variation in the lease says it should be used a storage only.
  • silvercar said:
    Does it have the correct fire door? and all the other restrictions that apply to a property with an extra floor? It may be that classifying it as a bedroom has implications for rules on eg smoke detectors to other floors, fire doors to other flats in the building etc whereas calling it storage only, means these rules don't apply.
    Thank you for your response. I do also think this is the main reason, but it definitely has implications for the property value if legally I cannot sell or rent it as a 2 bedroom (as in living space). So I am thinking to first understand about why this restriction is in place, and second ask them what needs to be in place to remove this (e.g., additional consent from other freeholders or any changes in the building - e.g., fire doors, smoke detectors or anything else). 
  • sheramber said:
    Would you not need to ask the freeholders why they put that restriction on the lease?

    It may not have anything to do with the planning/building control.
    Yes I asked my solicitor to better understand why this restriction is in place.. I literally reviewed the documents sent to me over the Christmas break. Why do you think they might have this restriction? Because in 2017 the loft conversion happened and clearly the landlord at that time got the ownership by paying a ££ premium as well. 

    I will try to understand what it will take to get rid of this restriction, because I think it will be limiting when I try to rent it or sell it. I do not think it will be a big issue as long as I live in the property, but we never know when I will need to rent or sell it. 
  • Albermarle
    Albermarle Posts: 21,185
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    How many flats in the block, as presumably there will already be many rules in place about fire doors, alarms etc ?
  • How many flats in the block, as presumably there will already be many rules in place about fire doors, alarms etc ?
    There are 5 other flats in the building. Presumably yes there will be, and we should comply. 
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,359
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    user1977 said:

    What if someone dies in there or get injured?

    What do you mean? Why are they going to die in there and not elsewhere in the flat, and why do you think it makes a difference?

    I'm not sure how much the indemnity insurance helps you if you're both (part) freeholder and leaseholder (as normally the insurance wouldn't be valid against action by the freeholder if they were made aware by the leaseholder of the problem).
    It would legally make a difference if I rent this property as a 2 bedroom. It is an unlikely event but for example if someone dies/injured as a result of a fire/smoke in the building while sleeping in the loft conversion... As my deed of variation in the lease says it should be used a storage only.
    Why would the lease make a difference to anything in that scenario? You've said it complies with building regulations (by which I presume you mean there's no reason why building control would care about it being used as a bedroom?)
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