Retrospective Party Wall Award

Would a Building Owner’s License to Alter give them the right as a Share Freeholder to Serve a Party Wall Notice?

This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.

In this blog, Icon Surveyors will consider what a License to Alter is, what a Shareholder of the Freehold is and whether a building owner who owns a share of the freehold is permitted in possession of a License to Alter may serve a Party Wall Notice on any and/or all adjoining neighbours?

What is a License to Alter?

A ‘Licence for Alteration’ is a legal document that grants an applicant, usually a leasehold tenant, or, joint freeholder (a party that owns a proportion of the freehold), a conditioned permission to carry out alterations to an existing structure or building. Such licences fall into two categories and are determined as alterations for minor works or alterations for major works. The required permissions apply equally to commercial and residential tenants and/or joint freeholders. Such permissions are usually granted by a Landlord be that an individual and/or a Collective enfranchisement, the latter being a company or other body that is set up specifically for the purpose of shared ownership of a Freehold interest.

What is a Shareholder of the Freehold?

A Freehold tenure, (how the land is held by the owner) means that the ownership is absolute and the owner of the property is “free from hold” of any entity.

Generally speaking, as the question relates to a building owner that has acquired a ‘Licence to Alter’ as a ‘Shareholder of the Freehold’, it would be more likely than not, that the building owner’s initial interest in the land/property was that of a Leaseholder.

Leaseholders of flats that own a part of the freehold of the building are known as leasehold or collective enfranchisements. In law, an enfranchisement is; “a method for acquiring a freehold or an extended lease of a leasehold house. A tenant has a statutory right of enfranchisement when he has a long lease (exceeding 21 years).” Such tenures must be set up by way of a management -company with all of the other leaseholders. The company will buy the freehold and distribute the company shares amongst the leaseholders. The management company then determines what the term and extension of each of the leaseholds is to be and what repairs and maintenance works can be carried out including the costs for such works.

In answer to the question, if the works being carried out are permitted under a ‘Licence to Alter‘ acquired by a building owner, a Party Wall Notice may be served on any adjoining owner by a shareholder of the Freehold interest as a member of a collective enfranchisement without any further involvement of the Company and/or other shareholder members.

Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.

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