One in five properties are leasehold in England. In London, this figure rises to over one in two. The substantial increase is mainly due to the number of flats in London. Due to house prices, the flat to house ratio is much higher. Typically, flats are leasehold, and houses are freehold, but there are certainly exceptions to this rule. Share of freehold are becoming much more common. Let’s focus on leasehold agreements for now.
As a home renovation and extension specialist, we are very familiar with projects that are leasehold. At Home Tales, we do often get questions from our clients about leasehold projects, so we thought we would run through some of the most frequently asked questions in this blog.
What is a renovation?
The core meaning of the word renovation is the act of renewing or restoring something. The roots of renovation refer to newness or doing something again. The word stems from the Latin word ‘’novare’’ which means ‘’to make new’’. In the context of building work, the term renovation refers to a process of returning a building to a good state of repair. This can include improving or modernising an old, damaged or defective building.
Can I renovate my property?
If you have a leasehold property, carrying out home renovations and modifications, such as extensions, can be more complicated. Depending on the scope of works involved and the clauses within your will leasehold agreement, you may require permission from the freeholder before carrying out these modifications.
All leasehold agreements are different, so the first thing to do is to read your lease for any clauses that refer to building works or alterations. Some leases might say you need permission for major works, but some can be as detailed as to say they expect permission to be sought for any modification (eg. installing a doorbell).
Can I build an extension?
The answer above also applies to this question – the only difference is you are far more likely to need permission for an extension and it is often considered to be a major structural modification to the building. We have built many extensions for homeowners who have a leasehold agreement. The process generally takes a bit longer, as additional permission is generally required.
Are there additional costs?
Yes, there will be. It’s likely the Freeholder will want to have their own checks done on your proposals. For example, they might hire a checking engineer to check the structural integrity of the structural calculations you have. In this case, you are liable for the costs. The costs really depend on what your Freeholder requests and how big your proposed project is.
You will likely require a License for Alterations and you will be responsible for the legal fees. The License of Alterations is an official legal document to note that permission has been granted by the Freeholder, and it might impose conditions on the works (eg. they are completed within a certain timeframe).
An example project: a loft conversion
Here is an example project – to give you an indication of the kind of process you will be looking at if you have a leasehold agreement. If you live in the top floor flat of a converted house, you might want to undertake a loft conversion to add another floor to your home. This is very common in London and loft conversions cost anywhere between £30k to £70k depending on the size of the proposal.
Depending on what is stipulated within your lease, you will need to pay for the Freeholder’s solicitors fees to draw up a Deed of Variation to grant you a lease of the new area. You’ll also need consent from your Freeholder via a License of Alterations. As there will be fairly substantial structural support, it is very likely your Freeholder will request checks from a surveyor or structural engineer. Party Wall consent is another factor to consider, as you will need to serve Notice to the flat(s) below you and potentially the properties either side of you.
If you have any questions at all, give our friendly team a call today on 0207 043 2378 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be delighted to assist you. At a next step we would recommend booking a home visit so we can discuss your project in more detail. Following this visit we will issue you with a no obligation quote for both the design phase as well as an indicative cost for the build. Site visits also a fantastic opportunity to understand more about how we work, and our process. If you have any additional questions about the process, we can also help with that, such as party wall.
You can book a free, no obligation visit either by calling the office on the number offered above, emailing our team or you can even book a site visit online here. We look forward to hearing from you.