Who defines "suitable floor coverings" in lease?

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    Who defines "suitable floor coverings" in lease?

    Hi

    I just purchased a shared ownership flat which needs new floor coverings throughout. My obligation according to the lease is

    (18) To provide carpets or such other suitable floor coverings to the floors of the Premises
    The Housing Association's leasehold team haven't decided on the matter yet but have hinted that it is unlikely that they will allow me to put hardwood flooring in and tile the kitchen & bathroom floors as I live on the top floor (noise reasons).

    Do they actually have any ground to deny me this?

    My take is that a quality hardwood floor on a decent sound dampening foam underlay is suitable as it's a purpose built block of flats with concrete floors. It certainly won't generate more noise than the thin laminate flooring currently glued directly on top of the concrete in the kitchen & bathroom. I don't like carpeted living rooms and laminate floors and would hate to install something I don't want to walk around on!

    Any advice on where I stand with this? Many thanks

    #2
    Originally posted by PDH View Post

    My take is that a quality hardwood floor on a decent sound dampening foam underlay is suitable as it's a purpose built block of flats with concrete floors. It certainly won't generate more noise than the thin laminate flooring currently glued directly on top of the concrete in the kitchen & bathroom.
    It depends on your lease. Only acoustics tests by specialists - which cost a lot - would confirm how much noise could be potentially generated on your hard floor, how much your floor covering would deaden the impact noise and whether your floor covering would make your flat compliant with acoustic insulation standards. Hard floors are known to cause tremendous noise nuisance and and as result problems with the neighbours.
    "I'll be back."

    Comment


      #3
      As said above, but what you wont appreciate is the empty uncarpeted room factor, a carpet and soft furnishings in general, stop sounds bouncing around a room reducing airborne noise. Underlay only reduces impact noise, and a hard floor gives rise to a lot more dragging noises, a chair pulled not lifted out, as opposed to pulled across a carpet.

      The engineer can establish transmission levels in the existing structure and the relative effects of either material.

      I have, and manage many modern and new builds, and I assure you, as the underlays degrade in traffic areas as the years go by the complaints rise.

      Hard floors on flats only work if they are suspended/raised with an insulating layer in between.
      Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

      Comment


        #4
        I agree generally with the other replies to this thread. Many new blocks are built with engineered wood floors over concrete base and of course then one can replace like with like. I have found some very acceptable, especially if residents are considerate and don't click clack in high heals for example, or the dragging noise mentioned by LHA.

        HOWEVER, if the flat currently has carpeting, then you are making it worse acoustically if you replace carpet with wood flooring. Have you thought of cork as an option? It used to be a bit naff but there is some gorgeous cork flooring now and it would be a good substitute for wood. It is environmental, natural, and better than wood acoustically. Perhaps it would be acceptable if an acoustic underlay is also specified. I hope so - I agree - I am not fond of wall to wall carpets in living areas.

        Comment


          #5
          A p.s. to my earlier reply - You can get cork in narrow planks rather than tiles - which gives an effect like wood flooring - with a good choice of dark, medium, light, figured or plain. Of course it resembles wood - it comes from trees! As with engineered wood, the quality and layers vary. Overall it is thinner (say 10-12mm) compared with good engineered boards (15-21mm), another plus as it wouldn't raise your floor level if you change from carpeting. It is warm under foot and can be floated. With area rugs, it can look lovely in living rooms and shouldn't imo be associated with playrooms etc. Perhaps that stems from the time when cork tile flooring looked like notice boards. Yours is such a common problem that I cannot understand why cork isn't more popular.

          Comment


            #6
            Thank you for your replies. I realise noise could be an issue but think most of it can be alleviated by adding runners in heavy traffic areas, felt padding to chair legs etc and just generally being a considerate neighbour!

            My question though is still in direct relation to the wording of the lease and the definition of the word "suitable" - barring any complaints from neighbours, would the HA have any ground to make me remove the floor? As mentioned it's a shared ownership flat so it might come to their attention at a future valuation & inspection.

            Designer, thanks for the tip re cork floors - have not considered this but will certainly look into it.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by PDH View Post
              1 just generally being a considerate neighbour!

              2 My question though is still in direct relation to the wording of the lease and the definition of the word "suitable" - barring any complaints from neighbours, would the HA have any ground to make me remove the floor? As mentioned it's a shared ownership flat so it might come to their attention at a future valuation & inspection.
              1 Yes however thats not how in works out in real life

              2 Thats been answered, addressing underlay and quality, might lead to the flooring being suitable, however it creates further issues, which if the building does not insulate those (or other ) sounds, makes in unsuitable.

              The only way to find out is to have an acoustic engineer inspect, look at the construction plans, take readings and then calculate the change the material will make.

              Even if you say that the construction and flooring you buy will meet part E, that still doesn't not make it suitable if a problem arises.

              When that occurs the HA may seek to enforce the terms of the lease, then unless your chosen material meets and exceeds what carpet does you run the risk of it not being suitable.

              Where you do have runners in heavy traffic area its a good idea to buy the ones with underlay.
              Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

              Comment


                #8
                PDH - Do yourself a favour and accept that hardwood flooring is not a "suitable" alternative to carpet and move on. Drop something onto a carpet, then onto hardwood to hear the difference. It is very considerate to lay runners and pad chair legs, but these are furnishings which can be removed, so immaterial.

                If you want to negotiate for a FLOOR which is not carpet and will be ACCEPTED by the HA, consider cork with underlay. My one experience of negotiating for an alternative to carpet concerned creating a kitchen in an existing stacked bedroom - more extreme example than yours but it vastly improved the layout of the apartment so was worth doing. It was enough to negotiate between surveyors, as the acoustic properties of the flooring and underlay were specified. The two options proposed, and which the Freeholder considered acceptable, were rubber and cork. As it happens, the owner chose rubber for the industrial chic look, but cork (in that case glued down for a wet area) would have worked equally well. It has been very successful - no complaints.

                If you want to see what can be achieved with cork, check out the variety in the emotions range at corkfloor.co.uk - http://www.corkfloor.co.uk/flooring/...-flooring.aspx or examples in Wicanders (perhaps more expensive) or ukflooringdirect.co.uk (perhaps cheaper but prices are ex VAT). You can order samples and decide for yourself.

                I personally favour some of the brown examples (walnut tone) or some of the figured examples resembling burred wood. But that is a question of taste and what suits your flat. Have a look at the Emotions Range Lava Braun or Twist Braun room settings. I think that's as effective as wood, warmer and softer underfoot to boot. What do you think? Or, Classic Element Rustic or Rustic Braun, also from corkfloor.co.uk, is a less expensive alternative.

                As with wood flooring it is enhanced by area rugs. Do remember that agreed acoustic underlay would be an additional expense. You have to work out if it would be worth it to you. What is not worth it is doing something without consent of the HA.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Ok thanks, I hear you. I'm not entirely convinced by the look of cork but would have to see it close up in real life. It would also stretch my budget a bit as the wooden floors I was looking at would have come very cheap.

                  If I may go back to the 2nd part of my original question though and include tiled floors. The HA expressed concern about tiled kitchens & bathrooms as well , which I find harder to accept. These are not heavy traffic areas where you drag furniture about. I also don't think the current covering, laminate glued straight onto concrete, provides any better sound insulation (unless you're in the habit of smashing plates). Tiled kitchens and bathrooms are just such an integral part of any modern living that I find it hard to understand they could have a blanket ban on them. I will probably proceed with this anyway and if there's a future issue just cover the tiles with laminate - esp as it would only involve a few sqm.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Oh dear, just as wood floors are noiser than carpet, so too ceramic, porcelain, stone, etc are harder/noisier than wood.

                    You may not drag furniture about in kitchens, but they can be high traffic areas, and areas where hard items are dropped. I don't like tiled floors in kitchens and I am very modernist - they're not an integral part of my life.

                    Others will have more experience of what Housing Associations will do if you don't comply. Maybe they would require you to take up the tiled floor. Otherwise anyone can do anything. For example you could put down a hardwood floor and if they complain, put a carpet over it.

                    I think that cork flooring will become more trendy - as bamboo has, but with even more justification. Of course if you don't like it, then it's not for you. How about a flat pile carpet then?

                    I would prefer to get the HA agreement and have an easier life. Sometimes limitations in options lead to inventive solutions.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Well I was actually toying with the idea of just putting down a carpet on the wood floor if there's a complaint - the issue would be that I'd have to shave off the bottom of the doors to make them run clear.

                      Making a tenant take up tiles rather than cover them just for the sake of it would seem like vexatious behaviour to me. In any case my kitchen has about 1.5sqm of accessible floor area so very doubtful this will generate any excessive noise - bathroom about the same.

                      Just find it hard to believe this is an issue - have seen so many flats (incl conversions) with tiled bathroom floors.

                      Out of curiosity, what is your choice of kitchen flooring then?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Floors and kitchens need not be carpeted but a suitable underlay is better if the floors are unlikely to preform well on noise transmission or are over habitable rooms and not another K or B.

                        if you allow for the risk of having to carpet then fine, altering a door can be done with a simple tool -door trimmer- and need not be taken off the frame.

                        So if you do put down a wood floor splash out on the extra higher quality underlay.
                        Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by PDH View Post
                          Well I was actually toying with the idea of just putting down a carpet on the wood floor if there's a complaint - the issue would be that I'd have to shave off the bottom of the doors to make them run clear.

                          Making a tenant take up tiles rather than cover them just for the sake of it would seem like vexatious behaviour to me. In any case my kitchen has about 1.5sqm of accessible floor area so very doubtful this will generate any excessive noise - bathroom about the same.

                          Just find it hard to believe this is an issue - have seen so many flats (incl conversions) with tiled bathroom floors.

                          Out of curiosity, what is your choice of kitchen flooring then?
                          I don't think leaseholdanswers understood what you mean from his last reply in this threat. He seems to assume you mean putting wood flooring in the kitchen and bathroom, then carpeting if necessary. As he said, these need not be carpeted. But more likely you are referring back to the earlier discussion about replacing the carpets in the living area - you asked what a suitable alternative would be.

                          Your Housing Association has already indicated to you that hardwood floor is NOT a suitable alternative. The earlier replies to this thread said the same thing. If you are intent on putting it down anyway, contravening the lease and their reply, what is the point of writing into the forum for advice? I find that really annoying, especially as it is a Housing Association. You may well be considerate and tiptoe on runners, but what about the next person in your flat? What about the precedent it sets? Why should your downstairs neighbour be put in the position of having to complain about impact noise from upstairs from an unauthorised floor? If you feel that you have a reasonable hardwood floor alternative that should be acceptable, then put it to your Housing Association and persuade them.

                          Why would it be vexatious to instruct a tenant to undo work and put it right if it contravenes the lease, and they were advised it was not acceptable? Okay, some things defy common sense, and I agree tiles are very common and practical in bathrooms. As for kitchens, the reason I don't like them is they are very hard on the feet. That is one room in which you typically stand or walk, rather than sit or lie down. I know of a situation in which someone replaced the wood floor in their kitchen with hard tiles. The sound transmitted downstairs is noticably worse than the sound from the wood floor of the original design. I also know of a development with hard tiles throught the living areas and there is no sound transmission. But it was designed for the hard flooring.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by designer View Post
                            If you are intent on putting it down anyway, contravening the lease and their reply, what is the point of writing into the forum for advice? I find that really annoying, especially as it is a Housing Association.
                            I'm not intent on putting anything down, as I said I've been toying with various ideas. I appreciate the advice given here. I haven't been given a definite reply by the HA so thus far everything is still theoretically possible. That said HA's aren't the ultimate authority or always make the right interpretation of the lease. Judging from the incompetent comments and contradictions of their own guidelines I've received from them so far I don't actually trust them to make a correct decision, hence my questions on this forum for more enlightened advice. (F ex one of them thought I needed to shut down the water supply for the entire building to replace my bathroom and hence needed their permission for this.)

                            At the moment I'm leaning towards not putting the wooden floors in, mainly for peace of mind. Kitchen + bathroom - haven't fully decided, but the flat below has the same layout so tiles shouldn't be an issue. I will post any final decision on the matter from the HA here later.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              As an addition I should mention that I just noticed the following paragraphs on the Housing Association's website – a clear contradiction of what they told me over the phone:

                              The following works do not require Landlords Consent but you should notify us in writing that you are planning to carry the work out;

                              • Fitting wooden floors – however you are required by law to also lay down adequate sound insulation
                              Inconsistencies like these don't really improve my confidence in them.

                              Comment

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