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  • FIRST POST
    • naomi adams
    • By naomi adams 21st Oct 19, 9:54 PM
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    naomi adams
    Lease advice on loft ownership
    • #1
    • 21st Oct 19, 9:54 PM
    Lease advice on loft ownership 21st Oct 19 at 9:54 PM
    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?
Page 1
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 21st Oct 19, 10:03 PM
    • 13,415 Posts
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    davidmcn
    • #2
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:03 PM
    • #2
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:03 PM
    What does the rest of the description of the premises say?
    • naomi adams
    • By naomi adams 21st Oct 19, 10:07 PM
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    naomi adams
    • #3
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:07 PM
    • #3
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:07 PM
    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)
    • ethank
    • By ethank 21st Oct 19, 10:13 PM
    • 2,084 Posts
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    ethank
    • #4
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:13 PM
    • #4
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:13 PM
    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.
    • naomi adams
    • By naomi adams 21st Oct 19, 10:27 PM
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    naomi adams
    • #5
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:27 PM
    • #5
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:27 PM
    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_M
    • By G_M 21st Oct 19, 10:41 PM
    • 50,073 Posts
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    G_M
    • #6
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:41 PM
    • #6
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:41 PM
    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.
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 21st Oct 19, 10:41 PM
    • 13,415 Posts
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    davidmcn
    • #7
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:41 PM
    • #7
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:41 PM
    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)
    Originally posted by naomi adams
    But what are "the Premises" defined as? It must say "upstairs flat" or something along those lines?
    • hazyjo
    • By hazyjo 21st Oct 19, 10:44 PM
    • 12,423 Posts
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    hazyjo
    • #8
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:44 PM
    • #8
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:44 PM
    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.
    2019 wins: Bottle of Prosecco; Popcorn Shed popcorn; Moisturising 'M&S Time Capsules'; Case of Boost Sport + £30 Just Eat voucher; Battle Proms tickets and hotel; under-eye serum...

    "Should know better." Apparently.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 21st Oct 19, 10:51 PM
    • 50,073 Posts
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    G_M
    • #9
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:51 PM
    • #9
    • 21st Oct 19, 10:51 PM
    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.
    Originally posted by hazyjo
    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.
    • Tom99
    • By Tom99 22nd Oct 19, 2:54 AM
    • 5,038 Posts
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    Tom99
    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.
    • naomi adams
    • By naomi adams 22nd Oct 19, 7:40 AM
    • 5 Posts
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    naomi adams
    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!
    • Tom99
    • By Tom99 22nd Oct 19, 8:07 AM
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    • 3,543 Thanks
    Tom99
    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!
    Originally posted by naomi adams
    The only way you can be sure of being able to extend into the loft space would be to make your purchase dependent on a lease variation so that the loft is included in the demise and with freeholder permission to do the loft conversion and I doubt very much that would be possible.

    Until you have the freeholders permission then any loft conversion is going to be entirely at their discretion and at any price they care to name. Even if your lease included the loft space it will not include the roof structure and you are going to have to break through that to create windows.
    • naomi adams
    • By naomi adams 22nd Oct 19, 8:52 AM
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    naomi adams
    Thanks Tom - yes we were prepared that we would probably need to pay the freeholder something for permission to do the work and there would be some element of risk / uncertainty after buying until we submitted the plans for their approval as there is seemingly no set fee for this....

    I had previously seen figures around the 7-10k mark but given that buying a 2 bed flat would be more than that cost even with the building work on top so we weren’t immediately put off... (the mortgage on a one bed flat would less than our current rent so our plan was to spend the first 1-2 years saving to do the work)

    Maybe we are just being a v naive and should leave this one!
    • hb2
    • By hb2 22nd Oct 19, 11:10 AM
    • 518 Posts
    • 1,911 Thanks
    hb2
    In your situation, I wouldn't buy anywhere unless the lease expressly included the loft and I had written approval from the Freeholder (with the likely costs outlined) as part of the contract. Otherwise I would be afraid that I would buy on the basis of a verbal agreement and then discover that my plans were impossible, or that the Freeholder was asking a lot more than I wanted to pay.

    The other thing is to check the local council's attitude to planning applications first too. No point in agreeing something with the Freeholder and then discovering that the council won't approve further development.
    • Tom99
    • By Tom99 22nd Oct 19, 11:14 AM
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    Tom99
    The other thing is to check the local council's attitude to planning applications first too. No point in agreeing something with the Freeholder and then discovering that the council won't approve further development.
    Originally posted by hb2
    A good point. Flats do not have any permitted development rights so presumably you will need planning permission which you would not need if it was a house.
    • eddddy
    • By eddddy 22nd Oct 19, 12:24 PM
    • 8,661 Posts
    • 9,008 Thanks
    eddddy
    I had previously seen figures around the 7-10k mark but given that buying a 2 bed flat would be more than that cost even with the building work on top so we weren’t immediately put off... (the mortgage on a one bed flat would less than our current rent so our plan was to spend the first 1-2 years saving to do the work)
    Originally posted by naomi adams
    A savvy freeholder would look at the 'profit' that you would make from the conversion, and look for a sizeable chunk of that.

    e.g. If the loft conversion would add £100k to the value of the property, but cost £40k to build - that's £60k profit.


    So a valuer might suggest that you should pay the freeholder £30k and so keep £30k profit for yourself. But it would be all down to negotiation.
    • Fire Fox
    • By Fire Fox 26th Oct 19, 12:42 PM
    • 25,239 Posts
    • 29,474 Thanks
    Fire Fox
    An access hatch for inspection or maintenance is a far cry from usable living space. Consider Planning permission, Building Regulations (fire regs esp.).

    Downstairs leaseholders might well object strongly to paying a half share of maintaining your roof and your roof windows. Or to having more people tramping up more stairs above them.
    Declutterbug-in-progress.⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
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