I've breached my lease

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    I've breached my lease

    Hi there. I hope someone can help me because I have been frantic with worry for 3 days now. This is a bit long!

    I bought a leasehold flat in July 2014. Since I've been here, I have done everything to it to bring it up to a modern acceptable standard. Note that the floorpan of the property has not changed from the one on my deed.

    However, I only asked permission from my freeholder when I was thinking about rearranging my bathroom. In the end I didn't and retained the existing structure.

    Here's what I have done that I'm worried about:

    Lounge
    Skimmed plaster and ceiling. Added wood floor and opened up the fireplace as a decorative feature with lighting

    Kitchen
    Like for like replacement. Did not change the boiler, but lowered the ceiling to fit 6 fire rated downlights

    Bedroom 1
    No changes

    Bedroom 2

    Took off old plaster finish and replace with dot and dab (not my choice). Changed ceiling. Added a fitted wardrobe to the alcove.

    Bathroom

    Like for like replacement, changed ceiling. Narrowed door to fit a new bath in better. The door used to have a glass panel above it, which was removed and boarded over with an isolator for the extractor fan. New plasterboard ceiling

    Hallway
    Took off old plaster finish and replace with dot and dab (not my choice). Changed ceiling. Added wood floor. Took out a door and frame that was creating an internal porch area between it and my front door. New internal doors and doorframes.

    I didn't get permission for any of this as I did not change the structure. However, it seems the use of dot and dab and the new plasterboard ceilings have had a marked negative effect on the acoustics of my flat and the sound from above.

    I guess I need to apply for retrospective permission from my freeholder (a Housing Association). Oh, and I'm in the middle of selling.

    Does any of this sound structural to you? I'm coming up with a whole host of worst case scenarios in my head.

    Tomorrow, I am going to pull out of the sale, by telling my solicitor that I have become aware that some of my cosmetic changes may count as alterations that I need permission for. I will then contact the Freeholder to start the process.

    Does this seem the right course of action. I've royally annoyed the neighbours by accusing them of having wood floors, which they don't. The acoustic problem is entirely of my own making and I want to put it right!


    #2
    First of all don't over worry about it. Don't give up your sale for this unless you want to. Everything depends on the wording of your Lease. Please send the relevant clause. Nothing you have mentioned automatically needs Landlord permission. Structural / non-structural is usually not the germane issue - it depends on the lease wording.

    Have you had any communication from the Landlord (Freeholder)? How do you know that they care about any of these changes. Look for a clause in the lease about carpets - very relevant to noise from above.

    Comment


      #3
      The Housing Association (freeholder) sent someone to my upstairs neighbours about my noise complaint. Seems they don't have wooden floors after all. After her inspection, she came downstairs to inform me about what had happened. She mentioned that 'obviously you've had a lot of building work done that you may need to check.'

      Lease clause coming soon!!

      Comment


        #4
        I doubt that the Housing Association would be concerned about the changes you have made.

        Comment


          #5
          (c) Not to make any structural alterations or structural additions to the Flat nor to erect any new buildings thereon and remove any of the landlord's previous consent in writing of the Council.

          5a: Keep the Flat and every part Thereof (except such parts as are affected by the Council's covenants in Clauses 6(b) and (c) and all walls, party walls sewers drains pipes cables wire and appurtenances thereto belonging in good and tenantable repair and condition ......so as to support shelter and protect the parts of the Building other than the Flay

          Not to do anything that voids insurance.

          Comment


            #6
            Their website says
            • Requesting permission to make alterations to your home or sublet your property: you are responsible for contacting us to get our permission if you want to make alterations to your home or sublet your property.
            • You are usually responsible for repairing and maintaining:
              • Baths, sinks, taps, toilets and all pipework which exclusively serves your property (including pipework outside the property, for example your main water supply pipe).
              • Fixtures, fittings and locks to windows.
              • Inside decoration, including plaster-work repairs.
              • Glazing, including seals, locks and handles to windows.
              • Central heating, boilers and radiators.
              • Fitted units and cupboards, and skirting boards.

            Comment


              #7
              I'm most worried about this part:

              However, it seems the use of dot and dab and the new plasterboard ceilings have had a marked negative effect on the acoustics of my flat and the sound from above.

              The second bedroom is also markedly colder in the winter.

              Comment


                #8
                Also, on the TA7, I answered 'no' to 'Is the seller aware of any alterations having been made to the property since the lease was originally granted'.

                On the TA6, I answered 'no' to Is the seller aware of anything which might lead to a dispute about the property or a property nearby'.

                And 'no' to the building works question, as there hasn't been an extension, loft or garage conversion, or removal of internal walls

                Comment


                  #9
                  Nothing that you have said that you have done to your flat seems to breach the lease clauses that you have quoted - but that doesn't mean that you have breached clauses that you haven't quoted as you clearly haven't quoted all potentially relevant clauses in full.

                  It sounds more like the fact that the work that you have done is a problem because it may have negatively affected your own flat.

                  I'm a bit confused about some of the things that you've said though, for instance, why would you put wooden floors in your own flat and then put in a complaint about the flat upstairs having wooden floors?
                  You haven't quoted a lease clause that restricts wooden floors, but if you think that it is OK for your flat to have them, why would you think that another flat in the block would be restricted from having the same?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I also have no Building Regulations certificates, even though I may have decreased the acoustic and thermal properties of the building.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by pcuk1979 View Post
                      Also, on the TA7, I answered 'no' to 'Is the seller aware of any alterations having been made to the property since the lease was originally granted'.

                      On the TA6, I answered 'no' to Is the seller aware of anything which might lead to a dispute about the property or a property nearby'.

                      And 'no' to the building works question, as there hasn't been an extension, loft or garage conversion, or removal of internal walls
                      Rather than withdrawing from the sale, you could just inform the buyers solicitor that you initially answered these questions thinking that they referred only to structural changes, but would like to inform them of the work that you have done.
                      It will then be up to the buyer whether they continue with the sale or not.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Macromia,

                        I thought that ground floors only were allowed wooden floors.

                        And you're right, if I was in my buyer's shoes, I would hate the guy who sold them a flat with clearly weakened soundproofing qualities. I mean, it wasn't great anyway, but it was liveable.

                        What clauses should I be looking for. It's an old Council lease and I'm going through it with a fine tooth comb.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by pcuk1979 View Post
                          What clauses should I be looking for. It's an old Council lease and I'm going through it with a fine tooth comb.
                          For a start:
                          1. Any clause that says that you have to keep floors carpeted, or can't have wooden floors.
                          2. Any clause that states that you need inform the freeholder, and/or get freeholder's permission, for non structural alterations.
                          3. Any clause that requires you not to do anything that might result in noise issues in other flats.

                          The clause you have quoted that says that you need to keep walls etc. "...in good and tenantable repair and condition..." would suggest that permission is unlikely to be needed for plastering (unless it says elsewhere that permission is needed before repairing walls) - but you seem to have left out part of the clause and replaced in with a line of dots.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Here's some more

                            Comply with and observes such regulations as the Council may from time to time make for the benefit of the owners and occupiers of the said flats and in particular but without prejudice to the foregoing to comply with the regulations made at the date hereof and set out in the Fifth Schedule hereto.

                            5a: Keep the Flat and every part Thereof (except such parts as are affected by the Council's covenants in Clauses 6(b) and (c) and all walls, party walls sewers drains pipes cables wire and appurtenances thereto belonging in good and tenantable repair and condition including the renewal of worn or damaged parts and in particular (but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing) so as to support shelter and protect the parts of the Building other than the Flat.

                            To paint the interior of the Flat with two coats at least of best quality paint and well and sufficiently paper and plaster the interior of the Flat and all additions and improvements thereto as are usually or ought to be papered, painted, or plastered and generally to decorate or redecorate the Flat in every sixth year of the term hereby granted and in the last year of the term hereby granted (however determined).

                            FOURTH SCHEDULE
                            2. Not to do or keep to permit to be done or kept in the Flat any act or thing that may become a nuisance or an annoyance or cause inconvenience to the Council the lessee and occupiers of other flats on the Estate or the owners and occupiers of any neighbouring property or which may tend to lessen or depreciate the value of the Estate or other property in the neighbourhood.


                            There is nothing that specifically mentions carpet or wood floors in my lease document.

                            Nothing about non-strutctual alterations.

                            Nothing that refers specifically to noise - just nuisance.

                            It is a Right To Buy lease that seems to have been started in 1986.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              First of all, you should not be stating or implying to anyone, least of all your landlord, that you have breached the lease. An admission of a breach saves the landlord the trouble of having to determine that a breach has occurred and has no benefit whatsoever to you.

                              From your description I do not think any of the works you have carried out are "structural", and therefore not in breach of the lease. Is there a floor plan of the flat with the lease? If any of the changes you have made will result in changes to the plan then you may have a (minor) problem.

                              It seems that the problems you think might have been created (noise, insulation) are of detriment only to you - and it's therefore up to you to remedy those if they are important to you. The Landlord may have an interest (unlikely) - but would have to find something specific in the Lease if they wanted to do anything about it (it's not a structural change).

                              Is the lease clause about structural alterations transcribed correctly? - it doesn't make much sense - especially "and remove any of the landlord's previous consent in writing of the Council.."

                              Is there any clause about applying for permission to make alterations?

                              Comment

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