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Why is ‘permitted development’ (ie without planning permission) of an extra two storeys on a block of flats a bad idea? Lots of reasons, but allow me a true story about one reason. 1/9
I’ve just finished a trial in joined nuisance claims. My clients were leaseholders of flats on what was the top floor of the building. The freeholder had, some 10 years ago, stuck an extra floor of flats on top of the old roof (with planning permission). 2/9
The build quality was not what it ought to have been. But the particular problem for my clients was that a new rain water gulley on the new top floor started leaking into their flats. And it got worse and worse. 3/9
The situation was complicated because the original leases were tri-partite, with a management company responsible for maintenance of ‘the Building’. The freeholder had used this for years to argue that the management company were 4/9
responsible for maintenance to the new floor of 6 flats. But there was no agreement with the management company, and no service charges paid on the new flats. It was also wrong, as they Building’ was defined in the old leases in a way which excluded the new floor. 5/9
But there it was, a standoff, with defects to the freeholder’s new floor steadily destroying my clients’ flats to the point of being unoccupiable. The freeholder took it all the way to trial, some 2 years after the claim started. 6/9
The freeholder’s defence, drafted by direct access counsel who I don’t think was entirely au fait with the law of nuisance, relied on limitation on the new build works, and it being the management company’s responsibility. 7/9
At trial they lost utterly. There was no agreement with the management company and nuisance was a continuing issue for which they were liable. Years of obfuscation, evasion etc., will hopefully come to an end. 8/9
But that is still going to take sorting out leaseholders/management company/freeholder rights, obligations, duties and payments. Which are currently a mess. Now if this can happen with planning permission, imagine what happens when it isn’t needed! 9/9
And 10/9 This is a very simplified version. We won’t even go into the terms of the purported leases of the new floor flats...
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