When do I ask for freeholder’s consent to my building works?

Q: We want to put a single storey extension on our leasehold ground floor terrace property. We have engaged an architect to complete drawings for council planning permission. I am am wondering at what point we need to get our freeholder's agreement to make these structural changes? Could we submit for planning permission and once we have that apply for freeholder approval?

 

You have done the right thing in checking your lease to ensure that you are entitled to undertake alterations as long as you have consent.

In this instance, we recommend approaching your freeholders sooner rather than later. By doing so, you can ensure there are no unexpected delays further down the line and also get a better idea of whether you need to budget for additional costs. For example, there is normally a charge associated with getting the approval (which is normally in the form of a formal Licence for Alterations) and charges for altering the details of the lease to take account of the new extension.

Your freeholder is unlikely to withhold consent but they will want to reassure themselves that the changes you are making represent an improvement. Showing them your plans should help.  They are likely to want to get a professional opinion on them.  If this happens and they, for example, hire a surveyor to look over your plans, they are likely to charge you the costs of doing so.

According to Schedule 11 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 all charges should be reasonable. But knowing what that cost is in advance will allow you to budget and, if necessary, challenge (see our other ask an expert question on this matter).

 

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