Illustration by Dan Mitchell
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Yoga studio has to meet conditions

I have just bought a country cottage built in the 19th century. It’s got a rather horrid extension from the 1960s which I want to turn into a yoga studio. The cottage itself is listed — this shouldn’t affect my plans, should it?

It will, I’m afraid. When a building is listed, all of it is listed, not just the old bits — often some of the outbuildings are too. This means that any extension added before the cottage got its listing is protected.

So what do I have to do?

If you’re going to carry out any works, you will need to obtain listed building consent from the local authority — in addition to planning permission. If it’s granted it will be subject to various conditions: for example, certain materials may need to be used to protect the historical integrity of the cottage. This can significantly increase the cost of the works.

Listing seems more trouble than it’s worth. Can I delist the cottage?

In theory. Where a listed building is deemed to no longer meet the architectural, cultural or historic criteria then the Department for Culture, Media and Sport can delist the building following an application to it by Historic England. You would need to establish that the cottage is neither of architectural nor historic interest, so you’d need to assess its age, design, the level of craftsmanship — all sorts of things. If you can establish that the cottage does not meet the listing criteria you can take it up with Historic England.

In what kind of circumstances might I be successful?

The most common reason behind delisting is that the original building has been pretty much destroyed, perhaps by fire, and the replacement is not of historical or architectural value as it contains none of the fabric of the original. Another reason might be where it can be proved that a building does not have the significance that was previously attributed to it.

Historic England has its own guidance for delisting. However, you should bear in mind that it will not consider any application if there is an ongoing appeal against a refusal to grant planning permission.

How often does this kind of thing happen?

Very rarely.

Rosie McCormick Paice is a partner in the residential real estate team at Pemberton Greenish

How to extend a lease

I own the leasehold on my flat but it’s come to an end and my landlord wants to kick me out. Is there anything I can do to extend the lease?

A landlord cannot evict a residential tenant without a Court Order, but do check the provisions of your lease and comply with them. As the lease comes to an end it becomes less valuable, and more expensive to extend. Under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 you have a right to extend your lease, provided you have owned it for two years and the lease was originally granted for 21 years or more.

So what rights does that give me?

If you qualify, you have the right to extend the lease by 90 years and extinguish ground rent. You can also use the opportunity to modernise some provisions of the lease. In exchange, you will need to pay a premium and some of the landlord’s costs

Great. How do I get started?

Instruct professional advisers, particularly a valuer, to advise on the likely premium you will have to pay, and a solicitor to deal with the legal process. Armed with your valuation, your solicitor can serve an initial notice under the Act setting out your right to extend. Your landlord then has two months to serve a counter-notice — either to dispute whether you qualify or confirm that you do and set out their position on the premium. Your landlord can also request a 10 per cent deposit of the premium you offered, which will be offset from their costs and/or the premium itself.

The valuers then have two months to agree the premium. If they can, your solicitor can press on with the grant and registration of the new lease. If not, you can (and must within six months) issue an application to the First-tier Tribunal. Usually a deal is done to avoid the time and cost of a hearing, but if not the tribunal will ultimately resolve the premium you will need to pay and any issues concerning the lease, to then allow you to secure a new extended lease.

Benjamin Lomer is a senior associate at Druces LLP

The legal issues discussed in this column refer to England and Wales. Scenarios have been compiled for illustrative purposes only.

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