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The moral case against building an extension

I will reject all offers on my flat that are based on lunatic development plans

11 March 2017

9:00 AM

11 March 2017

9:00 AM

If it takes any longer to find a buyer for my London flat I am going to start coming to the conclusion that it is perfect for me in my old age. Forget moving to a cottage with a vertiginous staircase in the inhospitable countryside, this two-bedroom apartment minutes from the hustle and bustle is just the thing for an aging couple like the builder boyfriend and me.

‘Think about it,’ said the BB the other evening, as we sat in my cosy living room, he nursing the usual aches and pains he brings home after a hard day on a roof. ‘This is just what we need. It’s handy for shops and services and it’s all on one level so I can limp around as my dodgy hip gives out.’

He’s right. If we didn’t own a flat in London at this point in our middle age we really ought to be buying one for convenience sake. Certainly, I can’t be bothered selling one for much longer, given the sort of shenanigans that are going on in this weird climate.

The agent, panic-stricken since I smelt a rat with the last buyer they persuaded me to entertain for three months, is putting all manner of insane propositions to me and claiming they are ‘offers’.

‘Good news!’ they emailed a few days ago. Someone wanted to buy my flat, but on the condition that they will be able to extend over the side return into my small back garden.

I pointed out that this was not, in my humble opinion, the dictionary definition of good news. The flat is leasehold and in a conservation area. Extending it would ruin life for three sets of neighbours, obscuring their light and peace. It would concrete over a little oasis of green space, setting a precedent for more gardens in the area to be built on.


I told the agent that even if this so-called buyer could get planning permission, and the agreement of the freeholder, I would not allow development of my back garden on moral grounds.

This blew the agent’s mind, I suppose. But in truth she ought to be rejecting all offers based on lunatic development plans.

One of the stipulations of the buyer I broke up with was that the flat must be able to have a bifold door fitted in the kitchen, ripping away half the party wall jointly demised to and I suppose ultimately owned by the freeholder.

Why would he allow that? I asked the agent. Well, he might want the money, she said. Yes, and there again, he might not. He might want his supporting wall left alone and quiet enjoyment of his property. Had she considered that? Had she considered the possibility that not everyone is susceptible to cash bribery?

More pertinently, is some jiggery-pokery going on designed to lock me in to my contract even though there are no suitable buyers around?

To wit, when is an offer not an offer? For the agent surely can’t claim to be fulfilling the terms of their contract to me if they are only obtaining ‘offers’ that stretch the bounds of credulity and logic.

What next? ‘Dear Melissa, one of our registered buyers who viewed your property recently has made an offer very close to the asking price! This is very exciting and we hope you will be in a position to accept. PS. The offer is conditional on them getting full planning permission to knock the building down and erect a luxury development complex of 15 flats, gym, swimming pool and underground car park. What do you think? Could you ask the guy who lives upstairs if he would mind his flat being demolished? Please let us know!’

Is that an offer? Am I in breach of contract if I continue to reject such propositions? Let’s look at it this way: if I had instructed an agent to sell a banana I owned, would I not be entitled to vacate my contract if the agent continually came to me with offers to buy the banana so long as I proved that it was possible to convert it into a mango?

On top of everything else, and notwithstanding the crazy development plans of the clueless and disreputable, the comments from potential buyers who don’t want the flat at all have been nothing short of deranged.

Last week a series of viewings resulted in the following feedback sent to my email: 24 Feb 2017, 6 p.m.: applicant loves the location. Unfortunately didn’t feel this flat was spacious enough for him.

23 February 2017, 10.30 a.m.: unfortunately she decided the flat was slightly too big for her. She would prefer a smaller flat with a bigger garden.

Presumably, this one wanted a smaller flat with a bigger garden so she could extend into the garden to make the flat bigger.


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