Can awk­ward squad ban our gar­den room?

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Letting On - Fiona McNulty

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.

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