Can I alter or improve my flat if I co-own the freehold?
Posted on: 11/06/2021
Leasehold Property Specialist Niki Adkins debunks the misconception that a freehold owner can do what they want; and discusses how a co-freeholder can use a licence to alter to make alterations to their property.
What changes can a joint freeholder make to their property?
A common misconception is that when a flat owner also owns a share of their freehold, they can do what they like in/to their flat. However, in the vast majority of cases, this isn’t true.
Even if you co-own your freehold (also known as ‘share of the freehold’) the flat lease will still exist; you will still own a leasehold flat, but with the added benefit of a share in the freehold.
What can and can’t a co-freeholder do?
Mortgage lenders and future buyers will still need a lease to be in place (and want that lease to be extended), regardless of the fact that the flat benefits from part-ownership of the freehold.
The main reason for this is because the lease is the ‘contract’ which governs what goes on in the building and, for example, what proportion each flat contributes towards the building’s maintenance and insurance etc.
If the lease did not exist, none of this would be regulated and lenders would not be happy to lend against the flat. It could also potentially cause chaos amongst the flat owners who, after all, have to live together.
Can I make alterations to a leasehold property?
My related article ‘Can I alter or improve my flat?’ explains the position with regards to alterations in general, and the same principles apply to this scenario, despite the fact that a flat owner may co-own their freehold.
It doesn’t mean that a co-owner of the freehold can grant to themselves consent without their co-owners also consenting.
What is a ‘Licence to Alter’?
A ‘Licence to Alter’ is the legal document that records the freehold-owner’s permission and the basis on which the permission is granted.
The complexity of the Licence would depend entirely on the nature and complexity of the proposed alterations.
Click here to read the full article, where Niki discusses whether a freeholder needs a license to alter and whether your co-freeholder(s) can refuse it.
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