Most leases contain a prohibition on wood flooring at properties either directly in other words by stating specifically that there can be no wood flooring) or indirectly ( by stating that the property must be fully carpeted).
In the last 20 years there has been a tendency to follow the Scandinavian fashion of having wood flooring in the property. Wood flooring can take the form of bare floorboards or “floating” flooring. In both situations, unless the lease specifically allows for it which is indeed very rare) consent must be obtained from the Landlord. Most property lawyer s would tell you that it is exceptionally rare for the owner of a property to obtain landlord’s consent.
Breaching the terms of the lease
This is often not an intentional breach of the Lease by the owner/seller and is more likely as a result of not being fully aware of these conditions or the implications of putting down wood flooring. The fact remains, that unless the Lease specifically allows for wood flooring and unless the Landlord’s consent is obtain then the provisions of the Lease have been breached. As a result of this breach the landlord could threaten to forfeit your lease and can insist that you lay adequate soundproofing material down or replace the wood flooring with carpet. There is a real risk that this would cause you much distress, inconvenience and cost. If you are planning to buy a leasehold property with wood flooring already installed you could be heading for trouble.
Options if the Seller has not obtained consent and the Lease prohibits wood flooring?
1. You can ask the Seller to obtain retrospective consent from the Landlord.
2. You can try to vary the provisions of the Lease to allow for wood flooring.
3. You can obtain indemnity insurance which is effectively an insurance policy against the Landlord taking enforcement action and for you for any financial loss in the event that the property has to be carpeted.
There is of course an option to take a commercial view on this and say to yourself “I will purchase the property in any event and if the Landlord requires me to carpet the property then so be it”.
Lenders' attitudes towards a wood flooring breach of the lease
The ability to take a commercial view is only an option if you are lucky enough to be a cash buyer. In the probable event that you require a mortgage, a lender will not lend on the property whilst there is a breach of the Lease unless one of the three options above are taken (and even in those circumstances some lenders may not necessarily accept indemnity insurance). Fridaysmove would be happy to discuss your options in greater detail and should you wish to instruct Fridaysmove on a property which has wood flooring, we will include within our legal fees the cost of indemnity insurance which can be as high as £500.