News and Blogs

3 January 2019
The improvements you can (and can't) do after buying a leasehold flat

Moving in to your own home is always an exciting time. Wish-lists and grand plans are often drawn up before the keys have even been handed over.

There’s nothing wrong with thinking big. We love it! But if you own a leasehold flat in a shared accommodation complex, it’s important to understand which improvements you’re allowed to make under the terms of your lease.

Here’s a quick look at the most common alterations that you can (and cannot) do without asking the freeholder/management company for permission…

Re-decorating

Leaseholders are usually responsible for looking after the areas of the building they own or lease – including any internal plumbing, wiring, flooring, plasterwork and painting or decoration of their flat.

If you want to replace the carpets or completely redecorate it is unlikely you need to ask the freeholder/management company for permission. Get creative, crack on and let your imagination run free!

Knocking down walls

If you’re keen to get your lump hammer out and alter the internal layout of your apartment, you’ll probably need to ask the freeholder/management company for permission because it’s classed as a structural alteration.

Some leases do allow internal walls to be removed without consent, so check your terms carefully before doing anything.

If you’re unsure, ask the freeholder – it’s usually a safe option.

In theory, the freeholder/management company has the right to refuse the work – but reasonable requests are often permitted, especially if they can be approved by a structural engineer beforehand.

In most cases, the reason for making this check is to determine whether the wall is loadbearing and ensure any work complies with the appropriate Building Regulations.

Fitting a new kitchen or bathroom

Ripping out and replacing a tired or dated kitchen is a guaranteed way to improve the value of any home. The same goes for a bathroom. Not only does it make your home more luxurious, it’ll usually increase the asking price if you decide to sell and move on.

Thankfully, it is very rare the lease requires you to seek permission to overhaul your kitchen or bathroom, but it’s worth checking. – Then simply draw up the design of your dreams and transform your home from drab to fab!

Updating a front door

We agree changing your front door is one of the quickest ways to create a good first impression and make your home more welcoming.

However this area can be a tricky one because leases are not always clear about who’s responsible for the front door of a leasehold flat in a shared complex.

There may be situations where the door is owned by the leaseholder, but on other occasions the freeholder/management company may be responsible for ownership. The second being, many leases do not allow the appearance of the building to be altered. As you can imagine, if everyone had different style and colour doors it could look quite an eyesore.

In our experience, studying the terms of your lease is the best way to find this out. If you’re still in doubt, contact the freeholder to discuss what you want to do and why - we usually find a suitable agreement can be reached in most cases.

Installing new windows

For most modern apartments, the windows and all their parts (units, seals, handles and glazing) are the responsibility of the leaseholder - unless stated otherwise in the lease.

For older leases, this may differ slightly because (in the days before double glazing) the freeholder/management company was usually responsible for the frame and the leaseholder was responsible for maintaining the glazing – to prevent freeholders/ management companies being bothered by broken glass issues.

No matter which category your home falls in to, you cannot usually install replacement windows unless they are made to the exact specification detailed in your lease. Obviously, they must also comply with Building Regulations.

In our experience, the reason for this is to maintain high standards and keep a uniformed look to the shared building – which helps the homes within it to maintain their value.

Hassle-free block management for landlords

In our role as leasehold management agents for shared apartment blocks and developments of various sizes, we know how important it is for freeholders and property owners to reach an amicable agreement which is in both their interests.

Whilst this is not always easy, we believe it’s the best way to maintain long-term relationships and ensure communal areas remain in tip-top condition.

If you’re a Freeholder or a Leaseholder, who wants to learn more about the block management services we provide, please get in touch or call 01482 564564 for an informal discussion – we’ll be happy to help.

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