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20 September 2019

I own a leasehold flat. Can my landlord charge me £5,000 to remove an inside wall?

This article was first published by City AM, Friday 20 September.

Carrying out works to your flat and finding out whether or not your landlord is entitled to charge a premium or other costs is a very common problem. The answers will lie in your lease. Generally, you need to check what it says with regard to these two points:

Firstly, does your lease permit you to carry out works and on what basis?

Secondly, do you own the wall?

The fact that the wall lies within your flat does not guarantee that you own it. You need to pass both of the above hurdles in order to make any progress. Your lease will set out whether or not you require the landlord’s consent before you can carry out alterations to your flat.

You must check if structural alterations are permitted, or whether the lease allows for internal and non-structural alterations only.

If it is the latter, the landlord is not obliged to grant consent and can charge a premium. If structural alterations are permitted by your lease, the landlord cannot reasonably refuse to give you consent to carry out the works.

This includes not charging a premium or unreasonable expenses in connection with granting the consent. However, you must also check if the wall forms part of the flat which you own under the terms of the lease, or whether it actually belongs to the landlord.

The lease will define what is included in the flat. In many cases this excludes the structure, load-bearing walls and the roof, among other things.

The fact is that, if you are proposing to alter a part of the building that belongs to the landlord, then the landlord is not obliged to consent to the works.

They can also insist on the payment of a premium before granting consent for your renovations.

There is no formula to calculate the premium that will be paid, but in practice it is usually calculated as a percentage of the increase in the value of the flat after the works have been carried out.

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