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London property: How building owners are able to sell the air above their homes

Building owners are creating value out of thin air by selling the roof space above their properties.

Thanks to a bill passed by the government in 2020, developers can build up to two new storeys on top of blocks of flats or commercial buildings without planning permission.

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Daniel Minsky, a property consultant at Estate Office in North London, told MyLondon that leaseholders who have found themselves with two storey’s worth of roof space have “hit the jackpot” as they can massively increase the value of their properties.



Leaseholders with the ability to buy roofspace are said to have hit the ‘jackpot’

Mr Minsky explained: “If you’re a homeowner you have the right to build into your loft and you have the right to extend the rear of your house by three metres. The same now applies to the space above a block of flats.”

Property consultant Knight Frank and Fruition Properties predicts 41,000 flats could be built in central London alone, The Sunday Times reports.

Provided a building meets requirements, such as being a minimum of two storeys and being detached, freeholders do not need planning permission to apply “via the prior approval route,” Minsky said.

Following The Sunday Times article, Minskey said several freeholders reached out to him, eager to capitalise on the value of the space above their properties.

“They’ve hit the jackpot because now they can go and build two extra floors,” he said. “I’ve had people coming to me saying they have roof spaces they want to sell.”



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There are concerns leaseholders living beneath an extension could face a loss in property value, on top of dealing with the inconvenience of ongoing works.

But Minsky told MyLondon leaseholders still stand to benefit from developers extending their properties into roof space.

“If you end up building extra flats on top of your existing block, you hopefully see an increase in property value within the existing blocks,” he said.

“A lot of the time leaseholders will turn around and say they don’t want someone building with the noise and inconvenience.

“Actually, at the end of the day, people can get everything upgraded as part of the deal.

“The freeholder wants to get as much money for their flat as possible. They’re going to want it to be a lovely block they’re not going to want it to be a sh**hole.

“You can increase the value of your flat if you can grin and bear it.”

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