Structural Alteration/Consent

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    Structural Alteration/Consent

    Hi all,

    Just moved into a property which is a converted house into 3 flats on a long lease, with each flat member owning a share of the freehold (we sit on public management company)

    My lease states I’m: “Not to make any structural alteration or structural addition to the Flat nor to erect any new buildings thereon.

    Now it’s a Edwardian house with lots of character and my plan was to was to uncover the fireplace to have as display only, which has been hidden. It’s a hollow recess when I knock on the builders opening, so will be removing plaster, and a new lintel to support. Question is does this count as structural alteration? The plans would be the same and I’m not touching the stud walls, just removing the rubble from when it’s been filled. Also Building Regs compliant.

    I also want to level my floor and put new Oak down. Does this count as structural? The wording of the lease suggests any alteration is unacceptable, but could all these be remedied by consent (maybe in writing?) of the freehold members?

    Otherwise, I don’t see the point in the “Freehold” marketing but call me cynical 🙂

    The freeholder company ( controlled by 3 leaseholders ) owns the building and can give written consent to vary the lease , and allow the leaseholder for make alterations inside his flat . If you want to save on cost of heating , you would not open up the chimney . But its up to you to convince the other 2 co-freehold members.

    One of the problems in converted old houses is lack of noise insulation between flats. Putting down oak floors may look nice but persons walking around upstairs flat creates a noise problem which travels to other flats and disturbs the sleep of other leaseholders.


      It’s literally just the recess for a display; no plans to open up chimney. It’s more the definition of “structural alteration” lm looking at here because at first I believed removing the plasterboard and rubble where the fireplace used to be was just an internal thing with no consent required, now I’m not so sure

      With regards to the flooring I’d see what I want to do as an improvement (which is discussed in Lease - “decorative”) as current floor creaks due to old wood being fitted to tightly. The sub floor does not look level to me as well, and I’d be addressing that


        After doing some research to confirm what I had always believed to be the case I said in another thread:

        The structure of a building is essentially the parts which support it and enclose it. It includes the foundations, external and load bearing walls, roof, beams, lintels and floors. Non-structural parts include any of the following which are non-load-bearing: windows, doors, internal walls and the fixtures and fittings.

        As to the fireplace, I was thinking non-structural until I read "and a new lintel to support" which suggests structural.

        Replacing the floor is structural.

        The lease does not need to be varied; getting written consent is sufficient.


          Personally I would not have thought that either of the changes that you mention count as "structural", but whether they are allowed by your lease may depend on the exact wording of any clauses that mention alterations.
          If the lease does say that all alterations are prohibited you may not be allowed to carry out even non structural alterations.

          On the other hand, if you have permission to make changes from all those who have a share of the freeholder (which would seem to mean that you would also have permission from all leaseholders in your case) there shouldn't be a problem.
          You may need to have the permission put into writing to make it official and help to prevent problems if the other leaseholders change, or when you want to sell, and you (and the others) would need to take care to ensure that giving you permission for these alterations (if permission is needed) wouldn't give precedent for any, and all, future alterations that people might want to make.


            I didn't see Lawcruncher's reply for some reason before posting - and probably wouldn't have bothered with most of my post if I had!

            Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
            Replacing the floor is structural.
            This surely depends on whether the intention is to replace the floor or put another layer on top?


              Originally posted by ZRG90 View Post
              Otherwise, I don’t see the point in the “Freehold” marketing but call me cynical 🙂
              Jut a bit of re-orientation. Your (shared) ownership of the freehold has nothing to do with your ability to breach the lease at will or any right to alter it unilaterally. It simply means that you have the shared responsibility to implement and enforce the lease.


                Thanks for the responses.

                I have verbal consent from neighbour (who has considered something similar himself he says), so I guess it’s whether I put this in writing for when I come to sell? Between us we have a working majority when it comes to the management company we sit on that owns the lease.

                It’s interesting to hear that floor is seen as “structural” as I would just be laying a new top. On the Alterations section of the document I received when purchasing, the previous sellers checked None, however I know they had new laminate laid in the bedrooms, a floor mat in the hall, and a new bathroom (tiles, toilet - not layout changes). If what you’re saying is right here, I’d have to declare all of these?


                  Originally posted by ZRG90 View Post
                  Thanks for the responses.

                  I have verbal consent from neighbour (who has considered something similar himself he says), so I guess it’s whether I put this in writing for when I come to sell? Between us we have a working majority when it comes to the management company we sit on that owns the lease.
                  You can't breach a lease based on a majority.


                    But unanimous can? As we the leaseholders are essentially giving consent to add a new clause?
                    Going on this, it sounds like I’d have to get it permission in writing every time I want to drill into a wall (or maybe I can’t even do that?)



                      Yes, if that is what the lease says (but it probably doesn't for a 1mm hole)
                      The lease does not say you can do structural alterations with permission - it says you can't do structural alterations.

                      So *if* you regard what you are doing as a structural alteration, you need to get the lease(s) altered, not get permission.


                        You are putting the fireplace back to its original condition as first built.
                        If the fireplace has just been covered over, that plasterboard is not structural. You are allowed to cover a gaping hole in the wall over a fireplace, to stop the up draught, to keep your rooms warm and stop the heat generated from disapearing up the chimney, and allowed to remove that covering that was placed over it.

                        You are usually responsible for all plaster on the interior walls, so you can take it all off, or replace it at will.
                        The fire place has a structural component, and that is the lintel on top that supports the brickwork above, in the same way there are lintels above all doors and window appertures.

                        Replacing the fireplace lintel, which is a structral support, will need authorisation, and all you need to say is you have inspected it and there may be cracks in it, and the outside is a mess, with chips everywhere ( make some if not readily available ! ! ! ) an for peace of mine for the safety of the building, in your opinion, it should be replaced.
                        As it will be structural, it would probably be the freeholder to replace, but you say you will pay all costs.

                        Don't forget to use Acrow props ( above lintel ) as photos - if doing it yourself.

                        FLOORS. are not normaly structural, but do semi help.
                        You are usually liable to replace the floorboards as required ( check your lease ) ( You should be responsible to maintan, the interior plaster and the floorboards,) - if that is the case ( read your lease ) you can replace your floorboards without permission.

                        With the lintel, replacing a structural item because of defects should be permissable, and recommended. But of course the freeholder must be advised of you plans ( see above for valid reasons )

                        If you are responsible to maintain the floorboards, no authorisation is required, but you must advise the freeholder to record the change from hardwood to oak, and that the uneven floor was rectifed in the process.( good selling point [ oh. he leveled the floor where otheres would not have bothered.])
                        photos follow ( if i was sucessful )



                          Thanks Ram,

                          The structural definition is difficult, but I do agree the hollow plasterboard doesn’t feel like it would qualify, whereas the lintel would.

                          In both situations I am looking to improve the building (the current floor creaks like hell!) and there is also a clause in the lease that says we should maintain good soundproofing. I’m confident levelling, thicker underlay, plus a quality wood floor would adhere to this.


                            A floor, as opposed to a floor covering, is part of the structure. In a traditionally built building the joists on which floorboards are laid are definitely going to be part of the structure. It is perhaps arguable that floorboards are not structural, but without them you do not have anything you can call a floor and I would suggest that a building which has no space to walk on expect by jumping from joist to joist has to be considered structurally incomplete. Assuming the lease contains a standard tenant's repairing covenant, ZRG90can repair the floorboards and replace any which need replacing. Anyway, the question is academic if the floorboards are going to be left in place and covered.

                            If written consent is obtained all doubt is removed. If you are going to have written consent it needs to have been properly obtained. In that respect it needs ti be recalled that the landlord here is a distinct legal entity from the leaseholders. It is the company which makes the decision whether ZRG90 is to be allowed to carry out works which the lease prohibits. A company does of course have to operate through individuals, but the fact that the individuals making the decision may also be leaseholders has to be regarded as merely incidental. The company's constitution will set out how decisions are made. Subject to there being nothing in the constitution to the contrary and assuming that the shareholder are all officers of the company, the way to proceed is for the shareholders to have a meeting and make a resolution to grant ZRG90 the consent he requires. The meeting should be properly minuted and a copy of the minutes, preferably signed by all those present, given to ZRG90. At the same meeting an appropriate form of consent giving sufficent detail of the works can be signed on behalf of the company, the capacity of each signatory being noted.


                              Thanks Lawcruncher,

                              Would you propose a Licence To Alter form? I can hopefully resolve via an amicable meeting with minutes/signatures, I’m just wondering this document would stand up ok when coming to sell. LTA form might also be overkill as the floor plan remains the same.


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