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Who owns unused attic space above top floor apartment?

  • 12-05-2015 10:43am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 33 Dublindamo


    Hi,

    I own a top floor apartment in a small block (12 apartments above 2 retail units). There is a small hatch to the attic space above my apartment. The attic space could be converted as there is good head height up there.
    I am tring to find out who owns this space and as I am the only apartment with access can I use it.
    The OMC have no records to indicate who owns it. The builder is long since gone (property built in 1994) as it the solicitor that acted for them.
    I am not sure where to go to ask. Is there a particular title deeds or plans that I need to consult and if so who should have them?

    Any advice on where to find this out would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance


«1

Comments

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 13,381 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Paulw


    OMC would own it, but you may have exclusive use of it.

    As to being able to use it - you could use it for storage, but not for a room, since that would require planning permission, and would impact on block insurance and probably your management fees too since you would have increased floor space.


  • Registered Users Posts: 33 Dublindamo


    Thanks PaulW. Is there a document that would confirm this ?
    I am hoping to see if I can approach the other members to see if I can get approval to use/convert this space?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,568 ✭✭✭ K.Flyer


    Dublindamo wrote: »
    Thanks PaulW. Is there a document that would confirm this ?
    I am hoping to see if I can approach the other members to see if I can get approval to use/convert this space?

    The likelihood of converting it will start with you having to purchase the entire space as it forms part of the common building.
    Although you have access to it, in some cases the leases prohibit it's use for storage by anyone and access is only for maintenance even though it's only above your apartment.
    If you manage to get a contractual agreement from the management company you are going to need structural engineers reports and architects to accompany any proposals.


  • Moderators Posts: 9,368 The_Morrigan


    Dublindamo wrote: »
    Thanks PaulW. Is there a document that would confirm this ?
    I am hoping to see if I can approach the other members to see if I can get approval to use/convert this space?

    Find your lease with the Management Company and then engage the services of a solicitor.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 13,381 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Paulw


    Dublindamo wrote: »
    Is there a document that would confirm this ?
    I am hoping to see if I can approach the other members to see if I can get approval to use/convert this space?

    It's unlikely there is documentation. Your documentation would only list the living space of your unit. Your unit, as per your documents at purchase, would usually not list the attic space, as it is not yours.

    It would be a much better issue to use/convert the space than just getting agreement from other members.

    There are a lot of things to consider - usable floor space which would increase your % space and would increase your management fees, fire/safety of the space, planning permission for conversion of space from council, architectural/structural change for the use of the space, block insurance impact on change of designation of the space, access to the space, etc, etc, etc.

    I'm sure that I'm forgetting loads of stuff, but it is all very complex and never as simple as asking can you use it, or asking if no one has any objection to you using it.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 24,778 ✭✭✭✭ Lillian Agreeable Zoo


    I'm not suggesting in anyway the op do anything illegal more wondering myself how in a situation like this that anybody would know what a person is doing with an enclosed space above their apartment when the only access is from his apartment. Particularly if its only for storage.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 13,381 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Paulw


    how anybody would know what a person is doing with an enclosed space above their apartment when the only access is from his apartment. Particularly if its only for storage.

    It will depend. Sometimes the space is not enclosed unit by unit, but is open common attic space across a number of units. Then there is also noise factor that people can hear things going on up above and then questions flow. It does happen, and then goes back to the management agent/management company.

    The management company have the right to inspect the property, especially communal space (such as balcony/attic, etc), but this is all subject to the Lease Contract and other contract and management documents.


  • Registered Users Posts: 33 Dublindamo


    Paulw wrote: »
    It will depend. Sometimes the space is not enclosed unit by unit, but is open common attic space across a number of units. Then there is also noise factor that people can hear things going on up above and then questions flow. It does happen, and then goes back to the management agent/management company.

    The management company have the right to inspect the property, especially communal space (such as balcony/attic, etc), but this is all subject to the Lease Contract and other contract and management documents.

    Hi, In my scenario there is a dividing concrete wall so I wouldn't be able to extend into others space. I am guessing the 4 other top floor owners also have similiar hatches with similar attic space above them.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 13,381 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Paulw


    Again, even if only you have access to it, it is not yours. It's the management company's common area.

    But, permission to use it as simple storage space may be granted, or may not. That is down to the management company. Using it for liveable space (conversion) is a much much bigger issue and would be a nightmare to permit.

    It is seldom as simple as we think.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,976 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Gumbo


    Dublindamo wrote: »
    Hi, In my scenario there is a dividing concrete wall so I wouldn't be able to extend into others space. I am guessing the 4 other top floor owners also have similiar hatches with similar attic space above them.

    In no particular order :

    Appoint Structural Engineer to confirm that the additional floor area has no effect on the building as a whole.
    Get permission from the Management Company (most likely will not happen, as they may need this void to access the roof for maintenance or repair and it may be stated in the lease when you bought).

    Apply for Planning Permission.
    apply for a Fire Safety Certificate.
    apply for a Dissability Certificate.
    Obviously these will be costs that you will have to bear.


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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 13,381 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Paulw


    kceire wrote: »
    Apply for Planning Permission.

    But, can you apply for planning permission for a space you don't own? Maybe, if that space is listed in your purchase documents (unlikely), but otherwise, you would have to purchase the space from the management company, or the management company would have to apply for planning permission and then sell you that space for your use.

    It's a complex area of living under a management company and shared units.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,976 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Gumbo


    Paulw wrote: »
    But, can you apply for planning permission for a space you don't own? Maybe, if that space is listed in your purchase documents (unlikely), but otherwise, you would have to purchase the space from the management company, or the management company would have to apply for planning permission and then sell you that space for your use.

    It's a complex area of living under a management company and shared units.

    Yes you can apply for Planning Permission with a letter of consent from the owner of the space/area/land/site etc


  • Moderators Posts: 9,368 The_Morrigan


    Mod Note
    Folks, there is a bit of skirting around the 'professional advice' rules in the charter here. Can you be careful not to cross that line.

    Thanks


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,860 ✭✭✭ Borzoi


    Dublindamo wrote: »
    Hi, In my scenario there is a dividing concrete wall so I wouldn't be able to extend into others space. I am guessing the 4 other top floor owners also have similiar hatches with similar attic space above them.

    I've a similar situation, but the attic is only over my apartment. During original build work I ensured that the builder left an hatch - there are other blocks that are identical, but not all have a hatch.

    It's not tall enough to convert, nor would the joists be strong enough, but I've put lights and some boards to facilitate storage.

    My view is that the space is mine to enjoy and I can't imagine the Man Co having an opinion especially if I don't bother them about it. To convert it would be such a huge deal that I can't imagine it ever happening


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,028 ✭✭✭ Lantus


    post disappeared! here we go again...

    You need to consult your contract lease. This is the legal document that you are bound into when you bought your unit and I am surprised the OMC don't have a copy. This document should typically outline what constitutes a common area (the reserved property) and what is yours (the demised property.) typically the roof space is never yours. This includes the entire attic air space, all structure and the roof itself. It is essentially private property.

    The company insure this space and are responsible to maintain it. Its not yours. I believe that there have been cases where owners have occupied attic space so its not impossible but its a risk and insurance nightmare.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,420 ✭✭✭✭ athtrasna


    Any alteration to the roof (installation of a skylight etc) would also have an effect on block insurance, I can't see any MC agreeing to it tbh. If the attic is MC property as it would appear then it would be foolish of a MC to allow you to use/convert it as to do so would clearly be giving one unit owner favourable conditions rather than to act in the best interest of all members.


  • Registered Users Posts: 33 Dublindamo


    Yes I have seen a copy of a lease but it doesn't seem to reference "attic space". I am guessing my first step is to ask a solicitor to review the lease to see if this a non starter or if it is something I can explore.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,420 ✭✭✭✭ athtrasna


    Dublindamo wrote: »
    Yes I have seen a copy of a lease but it doesn't seem to reference "attic space". I am guessing my first step is to ask a solicitor to review the lease to see if this a non starter or if it is something I can explore.

    If your lease doesn't mention it then you have no entitlement to access/use it much less convert it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,461 ✭✭✭✭ ted1


    Paulw wrote: »
    But, can you apply for planning permission for a space you don't own? Maybe, if that space is listed in your purchase documents (unlikely), but otherwise, you would have to purchase the space from the management company, or the management company would have to apply for planning permission and then sell you that space for your use.

    It's a complex area of living under a management company and shared units.

    Anyone can apply for planning permission for anywhere.
    Look up the frascati estates case law


  • Registered Users Posts: 33 Dublindamo


    ted1 wrote: »
    Anyone can apply for planning permission for anywhere.
    Look up the frascati estates case law


    Had a quick look and it seems they changed the law after that case. I would think I need to either be sure it is my space to use or have the management co transfer it to me.

    Marie Avis Walker exploited a legal loophole, which had first been exposed by somebody who, earlier in the seventies, had applied for permission to build "a small cabin of clay and wattles made, nine bean rows, and a hive for honey bee" on the Isle of Innisfree. This application was rejected in a decision by Sligo County Council, who claimed that it would hinder public amenities. When Marie Avis Walker made use of the loophole, she was more successful. She was granted planning permission for a shopping centre development in which Frescati was retained in its entirety. The developers were concerned that she was able to do this, even though she was not the owner of the land. The law was changed as a direct result of this, and it is not possible now to seek planning permission for land which you do not own. '


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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,976 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Gumbo


    Dublindamo wrote: »
    Had a quick look and it seems they changed the law after that case. I would think I need to either be sure it is my space to use or have the management co transfer it to me.

    Marie Avis Walker exploited a legal loophole, which had first been exposed by somebody who, earlier in the seventies, had applied for permission to build "a small cabin of clay and wattles made, nine bean rows, and a hive for honey bee" on the Isle of Innisfree. This application was rejected in a decision by Sligo County Council, who claimed that it would hinder public amenities. When Marie Avis Walker made use of the loophole, she was more successful. She was granted planning permission for a shopping centre development in which Frescati was retained in its entirety. The developers were concerned that she was able to do this, even though she was not the owner of the land. The law was changed as a direct result of this, and it is not possible now to seek planning permission for land which you do not own. '


    I told you a few posts back. You don't need to own the space. You just need a letter of consent from the owner. Nothing has to be 'transferred' I your name for a planning application.


  • Registered Users Posts: 259 ✭✭ lcwill


    I also have a top floor apartment with access to the attic space above it. I renovated it when i bought it 2 years ago, put down a load more insulation as what was there was shameful and put a few square metres of plywood around the hatch to make a surface to store suitcases and a few boxes.

    Looked into extending into the attic and I think it could be complicated but doable though the hard bit would be putting any new windows up there. I think you can extend into the airspace above your apartment but not mess with the roof. There are a few stories online of people doing similar things in the US.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 13,420 ✭✭✭✭ athtrasna


    lcwill wrote: »
    Looked into extending into the attic and I think it could be complicated but doable though the hard bit would be putting any new windows up there. I think you can extend into the airspace above your apartment but not mess with the roof. There are a few stories online of people doing similar things in the US.

    This is not America. Property law is different here. The apartment "owner" only "owns" what is detailed in the lease, they cannot commandeer the attic space if access to it is not contained in the lease.


  • Registered Users Posts: 21,461 ✭✭✭✭ ted1


    athtrasna wrote: »
    This is not America. Property law is different here. The apartment "owner" only "owns" what is detailed in the lease, they cannot commandeer the attic space if access to it is not contained in the lease.

    Apartment owners in Ireland only own the air space . Building remains property of MC


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,028 ✭✭✭ Lantus


    ted1 wrote: »
    Apartment owners in Ireland only own the air space . Building remains property of MC

    They typically don't own it at all. Sometimes there may be a right of access but generally its the omcs property. The lease should detail this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 111 ✭✭ Open A


    Lantus wrote: »
    They typically don't own it at all. Sometimes there may be a right of access but generally its the omcs property. The lease should detail this.

    Agreed, see http://www.prai.ie/rule-29/

    "(3) On application for registration of title to the uppermost floor or structure of a multi-storey building or of a part thereof, the Authority shall presume, unless it is shown to the contrary, that the title does not extend to the attic or airspace thereover."

    Still worth looking into IMO.. It would likely be well worth developing if you could. You would need a fire cert as well as planning permission. Project would therefore come under the Building Control Amendment Regulations - you will need an architect / engineer / building surveyor.


  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭ campingcarist


    Borzoi wrote: »
    I've a similar situation, but the attic is only over my apartment. During original build work I ensured that the builder left an hatch - there are other blocks that are identical, but not all have a hatch.

    It's not tall enough to convert, nor would the joists be strong enough, but I've put lights and some boards to facilitate storage.

    My view is that the space is mine to enjoy and I can't imagine the Man Co having an opinion especially if I don't bother them about it. To convert it would be such a huge deal that I can't imagine it ever happening
    And if there was a fire caused by your use of the attic space, which gutted the roof of the entire block, would the management's block insurance cover it as the attic was not disclosed as being used by one of the leaseholders of the apartment directly beneath?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,028 ✭✭✭ Lantus


    And if there was a fire caused by your use of the attic space, which gutted the roof of the entire block, would the management's block insurance cover it as the attic was not disclosed as being used by one of the leaseholders of the apartment directly beneath?

    Insurance would be a major reason. Many apartments are electric heating and tenants often use portable gas fires and keep the cylinders in the loft (sometimes along with canisters of petrol!) To save space. This is typically a contract lease violation and if the fire department identified such a cause as the start of a fire would almost certainly invalidate an insurance policy. Any unauthorised use of the space could easily result in same. Even flooring the space and putting in a light. You wouldn't need to give a company much cause to invalidate what is often multi million euro policy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,423 ✭✭✭ tinkerbell


    If you own the attic space, the lease will usually specify it.

    It's not uncommon to own the attic space above a top floor apartment - I'm aware of several properties where the owners own their attic space but it is specified in their lease.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭ campingcarist


    The apartment blocks in my complex are not owned by the top floor apartment; I own one, but not the attic space.


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