I have a problem with my neighbour and I wondered if you may be able to give me some advice.
My upstairs neighbour is selling his flat and the incoming tenant is planning to put down an imitation wood flooring in the lounge and hall area in spite of the fact that our lease clearly states that all areas must be closely carpeted apart from the kitchen and WC’s.
I have reluctantly agreed to this providing that I can have a written guarantee that the new floor covering will be absolutely soundproof but so far this has not been forthcoming and I am concerned that the new tenant will move in and arrange for the new floor covering to be put in place without my consent.
Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.
From your original question I am not sure whether you have a share of Freehold in the flat or the size of the block but I am assuming that as you have been asked for permission you must have a share of Freehold.
Firstly I admire your neighbourliness in accepting the installation of wood flooring with a written guarantee.
However, what you are agreeing to is effectively contravening the Lease and could cause you difficulties in the future. My recommendation would be that you request that the new owner enters into a formal Licence to Make Alterations (if the Lease allows this) so that both parties interested are protected.
The Licence is important as it should set out the terms of any alterations that can be made including the requirement for the Freeholders surveyor to inspect the works, and ensure that adequate insulation is installed prior to the wood flooring being laid.
Many of the solicitors I have dealt with in the past have a standard clause where a licence is given for wooden flooring such as:
“for the avoidance of doubt the grant of this Licence shall not constitute a waiver of the Tenant’s obligation under the Lease that all floors in the Premises shall be close-carpeted or covered with some other satisfactory sound deadening material. The Landlord agrees with the Tenant not to enforce the said provision in the Lease concerning carpeting and covering of the floors of the Premises unless any complaints of noise transmission shall be received from other occupiers of the Building”
A clause like this can be of benefit to you as you can ensure that any works to the flooring should not cause any more noise nuisance than the current arrangement. The Licence is also important for the new purchaser too as they will have an official document confirming that the works have been authorised.
If the new owner decides to proceed with installing the wood flooring without permission and you experience a noise nuisance issue then they run the risk of legal action being taken. This could be by either the Freeholder on your behalf, or by you directly with the result being that they will have to reinstate the flooring as per the terms of the Lease i.e. carpet with costs being payable by them as they have breached the lease.
Due to the expense involved for all parties it is always advisable to engage in the formal process from the start and I am sure your neighbours will be grateful to avoid any additional expenses. Hopefully they will also will appreciate the comfort of knowing that the same rules would apply should someone wish to carry out works that may adversely affect their property.
Sarah J Fisher, Director, MIH Property Management Ltd