Are my Freeholder’s charges for a Licence for Alterations fair?
Q: We own a leasehold flat. We have requested permission from our freeholder to knock down a load-bearing wall. They have responded saying we have to pay: 1. £100.00 for their surveyor to approve the plans 2. Granting a License for Alterations for which the costs are: a) payment of an administration fee of £350.00 b) payment of their solicitors fees amounting to £350+VAT. Do I have to just pay out and get on with it or challenge it?
First and foremost we are assuming that your lease states that you are entitled to undertake alterations as long as you have consent.
Secondly, according to Schedule 11 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 all charges should be reasonable.
Looking at the letter you sent us we would say £100 for a surveyor to approve your plans looks reasonable.
However you might want to challenge point 2b. OK, £350+VAT might be reasonable for the solicitors fees for producing and processing a Licence of Alterations. But if you have the time and inclination we recommend you phone or pop into a local solicitor and ask how much they charge. You can then see how the charges compare and go back to your freeholder saying you challenge the charge based on local quotes you have obtained.
More significantly though I think there is scope to challenge 2a) the administration fee. I am not clear what this charge pays for. I would write back saying you challenge this sum and invite them to justify it (perhaps quoting Schedule 11 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act).
HomeOwners Alliance Team