Can awkward squad ban our garden room?
QWE HAVE a two-bedroom flat that we inherited from my husband’s parents years ago. It is in a lovely old building and it has always been let out, but the tenants have just gone and we have now decided that we would like to refurbish it. In particular, we want to knock down an old outhouse in the garden which has been there for years, and build a new garden room. We are unsure if the other three flat owners will be happy about the garden room — we know one of them at least is rather tricky. We all own the freehold. What is the best way of dealing with this?
ACONSIDER your lease to ensure the garden forms part of your demise, as you may just have an exclusive right to use the garden. The lease should include details of any restrictive covenants regulating the use of the flat and garden.
Most residential leases require prior written consent of the landlord for alterations and additions. Even though you own a share of the freehold, formal written consent of the landlord is still needed.
The lease should detail the landlord’s requirements for granting consent to alterations, and you will be responsible for the landlord’s surveyor’s and solicitor’s fees in dealing with your application.
Planning and building regulations consents may be needed depending on the extent of the works. If the building is listed, then listed building consent may also be required for your planned works. As the outbuilding is within the curtilage of the listed building, any alterations or additions to it, or demolishing it, would require listed building consent.
Speak to the other flat owners at an early stage regarding your plans, in the hope of avoiding or resolving issues when you make your formal application. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a legal director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey (footanstey.com). I OWN a three-bedroom apartment and I am thinking of using two of the bedrooms to make some cash by renting them out through the Airbnb holiday website. However, my girlfriend says I might not be allowed to do it because of the lease. Why would that be?
ALTHOUGH you own your flat, you are likely to have a leasehold interest in it. Accordingly, before embarking on letting your rooms through Airbnb it is important that you consider the terms of your lease very carefully.
There are likely to be various restrictive covenants listed in your lease and if you breach them, there could well be serious ramifications for you.
Your lease is likely to include restrictions in regard to the use of the flat. For example, it may say that the flat can only be occupied by one family unit or by a cohabitating couple, or there may be restrictions prohibiting you from using the flat for business purposes. Using two of your bedrooms in the way you propose is likely to breach those restrictions.
Furthermore, if you have a residential mortgage which is secured on the apartment, and if you were to use the property for short-term lets in this way, you would likely be in breach of the terms of your mortgage because you would be using a residential property for business purposes. In addition, the letting of a property is only generally permitted if the mortgage is of the buy-to-let variety, rather than a residential mortgage.
Finally, you may require planning consent to rent the bedrooms through Airbnb.
WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM? IF YOU have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@ standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.