I am a long leaseholder. What responsibility does the freeholder have for maintaining/replacing internal fixtures? My lease contains a clause prohibiting me from removing the landlord's fixtures without consent however it does not specify what these fixtures are. They do not appear on any plans, are not mentioned in the description of the demise nor is there any reference in either the freeholder's or leaseholder's maintenance obligations. In the absence of itemised fixtures would I be in breach of the lease if I replaced my bathroom suite and kitchen cupboards?
This is an interesting one. As solicitors, we spend a lot of time analysing and interpreting what the lease means, and “internal fixtures” are rarely defined. This is odd given that replacing such fixtures can be expensive and you would have thought freeholders would want clarity to avoid disputes. However, unless the lease clearly defines the internal fixtures to include replacement bathroom and kitchen fittings, it should be assumed that this is your responsibility. Beware however - if you are making substantive changes, you may need to get the freeholder’s prior written consent as most leases contain a restriction not to make alterations to your flat without this consent. I would advise checking your lease and if in doubt check with your freeholder before you carry out any work. It can be an expensive mistake to make if you don’t obtain prior written consent where it is needed!
Mari Knowles, Partner, Leasehold Law LLP