Attic conversions: can we convert the loft in our block of flats if we’re the only ones who have access to it?

Question: We live in a top-floor flat and have access to the loft. Could we extend into the loft space to give us more accommodation?

No one else in the block has any access to it.

Answer: Exclusive access to the loft does not mean you own the space.

The lease of your flat should describe the extent of your home and confirm whether you own the loft.

If you do own the space, under the terms of your lease you are likely to need the freeholder’s consent for alterations. The procedure for obtaining consent should be set out in your lease.

It’s also likely you’ll have to pay the freeholder’s solicitor’s and surveyor’s fees as well as your own in connection with the application for consent.

The loft may be part of the freehold title. If it is, establish whether your freeholder is prepared to grant you a lease of the space. They could decide to simply retain the loft and not sell you a leasehold interest in it.

In either of the cases I have outlined, the landlord is likely to require a premium from you.

Remember, it’s important that you seek advice from a surveyor about the structural suitability of the loft space for conversion and whether the local authority is likely to grant any necessary building and planning consents.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here.

Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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