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Anyone who can advise about a very specific leasehold/freehold question

(16 Posts)
jammh Sun 07-Aug-16 18:35:44

I own a leasehold flat in a building with two such flats. The other flat owner and I share the freehold.

Other owner is lovely, but is planning some building work imminently which I know needs both building control application and party wall notices. They say it needs neither.

If they go ahead without doing either, what is my liability as co-freeholder and could it affect me selling my flat later this year?

Can give more detail but that's it in a nutshell. <hopeful for a quick answer as the builder is due in this week...>

Sunnyshores Sun 07-Aug-16 18:48:37

Ring building control at the council with the hypothetical scenario - if the scenario is not good - ring back anonomously and report the other owner.

I should imagine that as freeholder (owner of the building) you would be liable for any ilegal works and the remedy of them.

jammh Sun 07-Aug-16 19:02:57

Thanks Sunny. I'm definitely not going to do that because a) I like my neighbour, b) I want to maintain good relations with my neighbour and c) I would possibly be creating a problem for myself.

I really need to know what my liability is as co-freeholder, and will take the necessary, and most diplomatic, action from there. I am wondering if sending a letter saying you need to do X,Y and Z might cover me if they then decided to go ahead without doing these things.

jammh Sun 07-Aug-16 19:06:30

Thinking about it actually I guess if they really refused I would have to do that, but I'd prefer to avoid it if at all possible.

ChristinaParsons Sun 07-Aug-16 19:13:02

What are the works?

jammh Sun 07-Aug-16 19:21:05

Removing a chimney breast from ground floor flat - breasts and chimney stack still in place above. Making an opening for a new door.

cexuwaleozbu Sun 07-Aug-16 19:27:17

Well that could cause the whole building to become unstable if not done correctly.

Surely she needs the permission of the freeholder (i.e. needs your agreement as you are 50% of the freeholder) for such significant work?

You can be polite and kind and friendly yet still firm "I am really excited at how lovely your home is going to be after this work but we absolutely have to get the legal side done properly or if something goes wrong it could hurt our friendship and I really value you as a friend so please let's get proper professional advice before we go ahead."

jammh Sun 07-Aug-16 19:49:51

Yes cex it could confused
That is great wording - I will probably use it and build on it. The bloody builder's here tomorrow and neighbour has vacated their flat for the works. First I knew of this was Friday hmm although I knew they were planning works. Prior to Friday they had said it was too much money and they needed to wait. They should have done all the legal stuff months ago but now I feel guilty.

Sunnyshores Sun 07-Aug-16 21:03:03

I can understand your reluctance to annoy your neighbour/friend, but in a worse case scenario
1. they could be cause your property to fall down.
2. you would be liable for any works that were done illegally ie without building control so you would have to pay for them to be 'undone'.
3. your flat would be unsellable with the illegal works (albeit to upstairs).

So I really do recommend you speak to building control and find out what permissions you do need. If it turns out permissions are needed and your friend hasnt asked you to help arrange them - because hes found cheap dodgy builders?- (let alone given you reasonable notice of noisy building works) - why do you feel guilty and why would you not try any means to stop the works and protect your home?

jammh Sun 07-Aug-16 21:32:12

Thanks sunny - that's pretty much dp's opinion. Better get on the phone in the morning first thing. What a totally shit situation sad

ChristinaParsons Sun 07-Aug-16 22:15:24

The permission of all the free holders is needed for work of this kind. And yes it will affect you if you are going to sell

wowfudge Mon 08-Aug-16 06:36:29

Hmm - I think you have to question how much regard the neighbour has for you telling you about major work starting on a Monday the Friday before. It's being presented as a fait accompli. She's had enough time to arrange alternative accommodation, but not to tell you. I would be very suspicious.

GiraffesAndButterflies Mon 08-Aug-16 06:39:32

I like my neighbour, b) I want to maintain good relations with my neighbour

Your neighbour does not appear to have the same regard/respect for you, sadly confused

lastnightiwenttomanderley Mon 08-Aug-16 07:09:57

Relations aside, this is not insignificant work and absolutely does require building control sign off and - from what you've said - almost certainly a party wall agreement.

Any legit builder wouldn't start the work without checking these are in place as it's a risk to them if work has to stop midway through. It feels like your neighbour is either ill informed or deliberately using your good nature against you.

The best case scenario here is that it will cause you issues if and when you sell. The worst case is part of the building could collapse. Please let the shared freeholder know that you do not believe it to be exempt from bc sign off and that you do not give your agreement for the works without this being in place. Then speak to building control and get them round immediately.

lastnightiwenttomanderley Mon 08-Aug-16 07:14:57

Just to add, I know that you want to maintain good relations here but this is not like lending someone some milk. It's serious stuff and I genuinely do have concerns about where your neighbour has got this advice.

I know some people see building control as an annoyance (I work in construction) but this kind of scenario is one of the main reasons they are needed.

jammh Mon 08-Aug-16 07:26:41

Thank you all. You are right. We wrote last night to say don't start it. Will be contacting council shortly. Thanks for advice smile

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