License to alter - do I need a solicitor?

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    License to alter - do I need a solicitor?

    Hi all,
    I bought a short lease flat at the beginning of the year in central London and after - finally- completing the lease extension, I am looking to replace the carpet with a engineered wood floor.
    I was told by my landlord’s solicitor that a license to alter would be necessary for which I’d be charged 750 + VAT , regardless of the completion of the project or not. I also need to agree to pay this fee prior to knowing any of the requirements for wood floor approval.
    Now my own solicitor which I used for conveyancing is also quoting me a similar amount “provided no complication”.

    My question is : do I need a solicitor on my side for the license to alter? From the lease negotiation process, I can see that my landlord’s lawyer does not bulge from his position and is not responsive to any of my own solicitor’s demand. I’d assume that I will have even less leverage when it comes to the license to alter. I do not think It is worth paying my own solicitor to just “read” the license to alter drafted by the other side. From a Legal point of view, is it possible to do without or too risky?

    Thanks for your help


    Q1 - does your lease allow wood flooring or carpet flooring only?



      This is the paragraph in my lease which relates to carpet and flooring:
      To keep the floors of the Premises covered with carpet and underfelt or with such other effective sound-deadening floor covering material as shall previously beapproved by the Management Company

      My understanding is that other owners on my block have had to get a license to alter to get wood floor, so it can be done.


        I wouldn't buy a flat in your block (where lessees do this, and the freeholder fleeces to make lives a misery). It going to influence prices.

        This type of thing is worth at least a 10% reduction in the value of your flat/flats in the building in my book.


          Some flat leases will include a clause requiring carpeting over the floor boards for "noise reduction into flat below". Older buildings were built for occupation by one household and no sound insulation was fitted in the space between wood floor board and the ceiling plaster boards of room below.

          Solicitors charge about £300 per hour and rather expensive to read one clause on floor covering. You should look through the lease for the clause on floor covering and post the wording on this forum and someone may help you. .


            Hi Gordon,
            Thanks for your response. Yes the wording on my lease for wood flooring is below:
            To keep the floors of the Premises covered with carpet and underfelt or with such other effective sound-deadening floor covering material as shall previously be approved by the Management Company

            After research and speaking to management company, I don't think I can get away without a license to alter. However I agree with you that paying a solicitor on my side in addition to paying my landlord solicitor is a big financial burden. I was just wondering if it s possible/ not too risky not to hire a solicitor on my side. I think I am fine with dealing with it myself and facing my landlords solicitor directly.


              Any responsible management company (who was not interested in money grubbing) would decline any such application for a hard floor. Hard floor is NEVER effective sound deadening covering in a flat.

              So if they did approve it (and have approved others) your block is not a desirable place to purchase flats.

              Have you actually asked the flat below and above what they think?


                I fail to see how this is relevant to my question. I am not asking you to buy my flat or any flat in my block.


                  You were asking about "leverage" and "risk" - and yet you are uninterested in the risk. Up to you. Being sued or having other flats seek to breach the lease in other ways is a major risk.


                    Have you considered laying some sound insulation on top of the existing floorboard and before laying the new wood floor on top ? It should be equivalent to laying the wood floor on top of the carpet.

                    "SheepWool Silentwool Floor is an acoustic felt designed to go under timber floors and laminates. ... It acts as a natural pure wool underlayment to cushion the laminate, engineered or solid wooden floor. It also provides acoustic insulation, reducing the sound of footfall by up to 21decibels".

                    I have never used this sound insulation but you could ask for a manufacturer's test report to show that it reduces noise. There are other suppliers of noise insulation materials..



                      Not really. A solid floor massively increases impact noise and also reflected noise (upwards) regardless of what is underneath it. Under floor insulation might reduce impact sound by 5% compared to a carpet. It will reduce reflected noise by zero.


                        Hi Gordon,

                        Yes, I have already discussed underlay options with the wood floor contractor. Unfortunately, this won't spare me the trouble and expense of requesting a license to alter due to the terms of the lease.



                          I would email lease and clarify with them if you need a licence to alter or a covenant change.

                          Apart from soundproofing, obviously.

                          I would assume for licence to alter you could do it yourself, providing everything is clear.

                          If it is change of covenant that may involve somebody else and I would shop around for cheaper solicitor


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