Building around neighbours and tenants

When thinking about developing your let Property, you must consider whether you can do so without infringing upon the rights of your neighbours and existing tenants.

Right to quiet enjoyment –

Most leases contain a covenant for quiet enjoyment of the Property. Therefore, Landlords must ensure that any development or building works do not interfere with the tenant’s possession and enjoyment of their Property. However, Landlords also have the right to develop. Therefore, the two rights must be balanced to ensure the works do not deny the tenants existing rights.

Landlords should give tenants as much information as possible about the proposed development and agree with the tenants how disturbance to them can be minimised. Landlords can ensure scaffolding and delivery arrangements restrict disruption to tenants as much as possible, and even take steps to minimise the impact of building dust and vibrations during development.

Right of entry -

In order to carry out the planned development, you may need access to communal areas or existing flats. Existing Leases must be checked to see if the Landlord has sufficient rights to enter. In some instances, the Lease may allow the Landlord to reallocate an area for the tenant (such as reallocating a parking space) in order to allow building works to be completed. However, if the tenant has rights over a particular area and no right of entry is granted, the Lease may need to be amended in order to allow development to occur. Where common service media such as pipes and wires need to be moved, this must be done without substantially interfering with the tenant’s rights.

Being a nuisance? –

Tenants have the right to bring a private nuisance claim if an easement in their favour is substantially interfered with. In order to succeed, the tenant must show whether the easement can be exercised as conveniently as before. Many Leases contain clauses which reserve a right for the Landlord to develop, however, such clauses are interpreted against Landlords and developers. Therefore advice prior to development should be taken.

Right to light -

A development may impede on neighbouring properties or other tenant’s right to light. Tenants and neighbours may be able to obtain an injunction to stop works, or even demolish the development if it fails to respect their rights to light. The damages and compensation payable as a penalty for this could be substantial. Advice from a specialist surveyor, or insurance, can be obtained if you have any doubt whether the right to light is being affected by the development.

Service charge -

Building new flats can create trouble for how service charge schemes operate. Landowners should ensure all of their expenses for maintenance of a building post development can be recovered. Service charge proportions may be able to be recalculated, or separate regimes may need to be established for new properties. However, any service charge provisions should merge with the existing leases and provide similar rights and reservations. A development may cause further refurbishment or remedial works to become necessary, therefore, it must be considered whether service charges can cover these costs.

For more information contact Frank Smith & Co Solicitors on 01242 801748

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