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Lease advice on loft ownership

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
16 replies 748 views
naomi_adamsnaomi_adams Forumite
5 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
I’m considering buying a one bedroom
leasehold flat in London - the top floor of a house split into two flats. An individual owns the freehold and the downstairs flat is also leasehold.

The EA and owner have advertised the property as having a loft and have advised me that that loft is demised to my flat but after reading the lease I can’t see that the loft space is specifically referred too. It is important as I want to convert the loft space eventually to give me more space. There is a floor plan including the garden but the floor plan does not include the loft.

The lease has a clause about getting permission from the freeholder about building works / alterations etc but they can’t unreasonably withold consent. I understand from research that is the case with all freehold properties and we may have to pay the freeholder to sign planning consent possibly based on the ‘uplift in property value’.

The lease holders have to jointly pay for repairs to the roof and foundations.

The description of the premises has this clause:

“The ceiling and floors (including any stairs or steps in or on the the Premises) except in the case of any floor or ceiling dividing the Premises from the other flat such main beams girders or joists are included in the Premises as far only as the medial plane thereof and any and every such main beam girder or joist is hereby declared to be a party structure”

Does any of this indicate to anyone more versed in this than me that the loft is mine or is it more likely to be the freeholders as there is no specific reference?
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Replies

  • davidmcndavidmcn Forumite
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    What does the rest of the description of the premises say?
  • There are only 7 points in total.. in brief:

    1) all walls enclosing the Premises

    2) doors including frames

    3) windows inc. glass and frames

    4) ceilings and floors (as detailed above)

    5) gas central water sanitary etc

    6) all pipes and wires in the premises

    7) garden as per plan (garden is split in half)
  • ethankethank Forumite
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    This is a legal issue. I had this at my flat but it was in fact an attic flat already (top floor of a mansion style town house) and the loft space could not be developed further.

    It sounds like you will not be able to conduct any development into the loft space without permission from the freeholder and that you will need to negotiate with them over the terms of your lease. You will need a deed of variation to be signed to allow you to go ahead and other parties may insist on payment for this. Not a lot you can do about it.

    Your problem is that your lease is silent on what should happen with the loft. This means it can of course argue a case either side. In my former property no one could access the loft unless they came through my flat, but of course people can argue that does not make it clear who owned it.

    It would be best solved by mutual agreement unless you want to pay lots of legal fees.
  • I am prepared that I may have to pay the freeholder something at some point but my concern is that the other leaseholder may also have a claim to the loft space as it is not clear.. I also wondered if I was
    missing something given the views of the vendor and the EA!

    As you suggested the EA advised this could be negotiated with the freeholder further (clearly defining who owns loft space and seeking permission for alterations) via my solicitor during the conveyancing process but I am now wondering if it is worth proceeding with the purchase at all given I definitely want a property I can extend after a few years...
  • G_MG_M Forumite
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    Either the loft is part of your 'demised premises', in which case the other leaseholder will have no claim to it, or it is not part of your 'demised premises', in which case you cannot use it without getting (buying!) it included into your lease via a variation.


    The freeholder may or may not wish to sell you the loft.


    Th only bit of the lease that you've quoted that seems relevant is:
    There is a floor plan including the garden but the floor plan does not include the loft.
    That sems pretty conclusive unless there is something written elsewhere.
    ** If I include a blue link in my post, click and read it before posting a follow-up question. The answer may be in the link! **
  • davidmcndavidmcn Forumite
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    There are only 7 points in total.. in brief:

    1) all walls enclosing the Premises

    2) doors including frames

    3) windows inc. glass and frames

    4) ceilings and floors (as detailed above)

    5) gas central water sanitary etc

    6) all pipes and wires in the premises

    7) garden as per plan (garden is split in half)
    But what are "the Premises" defined as? It must say "upstairs flat" or something along those lines?
  • hazyjohazyjo Forumite
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    I'm sure there was a post on here where the freeholder wanted £30k+ for the loft space. Will see if I can dig it out.
    2020 wins: nada (yet)
  • G_MG_M Forumite
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    hazyjo wrote: »
    I'm sure there was a post on here where the freeholder wanted £30k+ for the loft space. Will see if I can dig it out.
    Would not surprise me. It would effectively turn a 2 bed flat into a 3 bed (or 1 bed into 2) thus greatly increasing the value of the flat.
    ** If I include a blue link in my post, click and read it before posting a follow-up question. The answer may be in the link! **
  • Tom99Tom99 Forumite
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    If the loft hatch is only accessible from the upstairs flat you might get away with using the loft for storage but since the lease plan does not include the loft you have no right to use it.
  • The premises is defined in the lease as ‘upper floor flat’ but there is no loft space on the floor plan. The loft is only accessible from the top floor flat
    via a small hatch. It’s not being used at present as the flat is being sold empty. There is nothing linked to the downstairs flat such as water tanks etc in the loft.

    Another EA previously mentioned to us that often old leases (this is from the 80s) don’t make mention of the loft space as part of the demise as it wasn’t deemed that useable or valuable when the lease was drawn up.

    Anyway it seems that the loft is not defined as part of the premises so I think I will make some further enquiries with the freeholder if possible.

    Thanks to everyone who took time to
    reply!
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