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Lease & Obligations

Restrictions

Tenants

Letting to Tenants

Flat owners wishing to sub-let their property are required by the leasehold agreement between the Management Company and the owner (the head lease) to obtain consent from the Management Company in advance (before signing the tenancy agreement). The Management Company is required not to withold permission unreasonably, so permission will be granted on the conditions described below, decided by shareholders (property owners) to protect other owners and residents, unless there are good reasons not to.

Apply for permission using St Benedicts Online. There is currently no fee for online or email applications meeting the conditions described below. Copies of documents no longer have to be submitted with the application if you can certify that these exist, they meet the conditions described below and you undertake to provide copies within 5 working days on request. Documents are requested after previous issues and for about one in four new tenants chosen at random. Please apply in sufficient time, as applications may take 5 working days. You must ensure your statements are true, as they will be relied upon, and consent will be void if not.

If the application is non-standard, does not fully meet the conditions described below or you cannot apply online, contact the Managing Agent so alternative arrangements can be made. If documents are requested, you should scan and send copies of:

  • The tenancy agreement showing the property address, owner name, individual tenant name(s) and tenancy dates.
  • The parts of references for each adult tenant confirming previous satisfactory tenancy without damage or nuisance (financial details are not required).
  • The last electrical installation condition report (EICR), which is required by law for sub-let properties.

Following several instances of damage and nuisance, shareholders (property owners) decided at the Annual General Meeting on 30 November 2011 that consent for subletting would be granted with the conditions described below and set out in the application. Shareholders (property owners) decided at the Annual General Meeting on 18 November 2014 that consent would be granted only if the property would not be overcrowded under available official guidance. Guidance from Wandsworth Council stipulates a separate bedroom for each couple, for each adult aged 16 or over, for each two children of the same sex aged over 10, for each two children aged under 10 and, in certain circumstances, for a carer.

Owners sub-letting must protect themselves and other owners and residents by having a proper tenancy agreement (such as as assured shorthold tenancy) with the named individual adult tenant(s) whose terms comply with the head lease (including sub-letting for a fixed term of no more than three years) and by seeking and taking up independent references on each named adult tenant to ensure that they have not caused damage or nuisance in previous accommodation. Owners may also consider financial references advisable but these do not need to be submitted. References are not essential if the tenant(s) are close relatives or personal friends of the flat owner themselves. Owners are recommended to take out landlord insurance including third party liability. The Management Company provides buildings insurance, so you do not need this.

Landlords must comply with the law regarding renting. You are likely to be required to notify your mortgage company and your insurance company and they may amend their terms or charge more for properties that are let. You are recommended to seek appropriate professional advice before letting your property. Owners remain legally responsible under the head lease for complying with the terms of the head lease and conditions of consent and cannot pass this responsibility to anyone else unless they hold a valid legal power of attorney. You must ensure that your tenant(s) and any letting agent are fully aware of their obligations and are given appropriate information about the Estate, including parking, proper disposal of refuse and recycling and covenants such as those prohibiting property alterations, aerials, satellite dishes, drying washing outside, obstructing the communal areas, nuisance, noise and pets. You should ask them to sign up to Rendall and Rittner Online for information. You must ensure all block security keys are recovered when the sub-let ends, otherwise you may have to pay for lock cylinder and key replacement.

Consent for sub-letting is granted until the end of the tenancy agreement (no more than three years), change of tenant(s) or change of ownership, whichever comes first. Consent is renewable annually to identify changes and protect against breach of lease, damage and nuisance. When consent expires, if the tenant(s) will stay on, you must apply again indicating that it is a renewal. On change of tenant(s), you must apply again for the new tenant(s), even if you already have consent for previous tenant(s). Consent and agreement to the conditions are personal to the flat owner, so a new flat owner wishing to sub-let or continue to sub-let must apply for new consent and agree to the conditions themselves.

The head lease requires that costs will be borne by the properties for which they are incurred. It is not reasonable for landlords receiving rent to expect other owners to pay costs associated with their sub-letting. Consequently, owners sub-letting are required to agree to repair at their cost any damage to Estate, owners' or residents' facilities caused by their tenants for which the tenants are liable or if the head lease is breached where the cost cannot be recovered from the tenants. The owner could recover this from the deposit or landlord insurance. For significant damage, the Management Company would claim on its buildings insurance and, provided the claim were paid, would then seek to recover the Management Company's costs, the insurance excess and the increase in insurance premiums in subsequent years rather than than the higher cost of the repairs. The Directors have given an undertaking to make an insurance claim if the cost of repairs exceeds the annual buildings insurance premium including taxes and may at their discretion do so for lower cost of repairs.

Window Rebate

Double Glazing

Shareholders voted to permit owners to install replacement windows, which may be double or triple glazed, unlike the originals. Owners who received consent to install windows that did not require external painting (such as uPVC ones) before the quotations received a rebate of service charges to reflect the decoration cost saved in 2010 and 2015. Because so many windows had been replaced by 2020, the greatly increased costs of work and the consequent financial position with money not collected in to cover them, owners voted at the 2020 AGM to discontinue rebates, so these are no longer paid.

Flat owners wishing to install replacement windows are required by the lease to obtain consent in advance from the Management Company, preferably using St Benedicts Online, otherwise by completing and emailing a scan of the form available there to the Managing Agent. Consent will be subject to the conditions below and you will be required to repair or pay for any damage that may be caused and pay for any remedial work if conditions are not complied with.

Replacement windows:

  • Must comply with building regulations;
  • Must be brown in colour with a timber grain effect to match the original windows and preserve the appearance of the Estate;
  • May hinge and/or tilt open provided that the external appearance is unaltered (approved by owners at the 2013 AGM);
  • Must have suitable hinge arrangements and glass type taking account of a possible need to escape through the window in the event of fire, (you may also want a hinge type that allows you to clean the outsides of windows from within the flat and trickle air vents to reduce condensation).

Additional requirements and conditions, set out on the emergency page, are necessary for work during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

Toolbox

Alterations and Plumbing

Flat owners are required by the lease to obtain consent in advance from the Management Company before carrying out any alterations inclding to fixtures and should seek consent for all work except routine redecoration. Owners must contact the Management Company in good time in advance of the work, preferably using St Benedicts Online, otherwise by completing and emailing a scan of the form available there to the Managing Agent.

  • Structural changes will not be allowed, nor those that affect other parts of the building, that reduce the building's original fire resistance or that adversely affect other owners or residents.
  • Window replacement requires consent and is normally allowed with certain conditions.
  • Plumbing work requires consent. Plumbing work is any work to fixtures attached to the water supply or soil stack or that requires the water supply to be isolated (including to tanks, pipes, cisterns, taps, showers and toilets). It must be carried out by a qualified plumber to appropriate standards (summarised below), see plumbing information (PDF, 26kb).

The owner will be required to pay the cost of any professional advice that the Management Company needs to take on the proposed alterations, for example, from a surveyor or structural engineer. If consent is granted, it will be subject to conditions and, depending on the alterations, extra work may be required to protect other owners and residents. The owner will also be required to repair or pay for any damage that may be caused and pay for any remedial work if consent is not obtained, conditions are not complied with or if extra work required is not carried out. This obligation, along with others, transfers to anyone who subsequently purchases the flat.

The Management Company will consider each application on its merits, taking professional advice as necessary. Without commitment and as a guide only:

  • All work must comply with building and fire regulations. Where building regulations approval is required, the Management Company will require to see this after the work.
  • Certain electrical work must be carried out by a qualified electrician by law and requires certification, which the Management Company will require to see after the work.
  • Replacement of the kitchen and bathroom fixtures is usually allowed, provided any plumbing work is done by a qualified plumber, whose qualifications (for example, Gas Safe Register or CIPHE, not just consumer reputation) have to be provided to the Management Company before work starts.
  • Greater changes to plumbing are not normally allowed because of the very poor insurance claim record for leaks, which has caused substantial premium and excess increases. The requirements were consequently tightened in July 2020 and were confirmed by property owners at the 2020 AGM by an overwhelming majority, along with the revised policy on leaks. These standards will be required for alterations and remedial work after a leak and are strongly recommended otherwise.
  • The water system must have open tanks or, if at mains pressure, have an effective flow-based leak stop device. Pressurised systems are not permitted. Hot water overflows are not permitted over paths and public areas and in other areas must use metal piping directed to the ground for safety. Shower pumps are permitted at the shower head only, over the tray or bath, not elsewhere. All water supply and hot overflow pipes must be solid metal with brazed, soldered or certified and guaranteed machine pressed joints. Plastic waste pipes must have fully welded joints. Flexible piping, compression joints and push-fit joints are not permitted, nor flexible connectors at mains pressure. Appliances must be inspected and maintained at least annually and products must be used, both according to their manufacturer's instructions. Perishable items like washers and seals must be inspected regularly and replaced when required. See the full plumbing information (PDF, 26kb).
  • Wooden and laminate floors are not usually allowed because sound is audible in adjacent flats and any flat below, although construction met applicable regulations when built. The additional sound insulation required to protect other residents and meet the latest regulations and the professional testing in all the flats involved required to demonstrate this is generally not practical. Carpets with underlay are recommended as they help to deaden sound.
  • As a furnishing, fitting new and replacement carpets and underlay does not need consent.

Changes to layout and doors require consent, which can only be granted if the original fire resistance protecting other parts of the building outside the flat is maintained at 60 minutes from all living areas, including the kitchen, and 30 minutes from the exit hallway, which itself has 30 minutes protection. This guidance was tightened in July 2017 with advice from a Health & Safety consultant following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. Without commitment and as a guide only:

  • Owners are now required (rather than strongly recommended) to maintain a means of exit through the flat hallway protected from all other rooms with the panels and doors originally fitted or similarly certified as at least 30 minute fire resistant (FD30). These doors should be kept closed, especially when sleeping, for the safety of those in the flat.
  • There must be at least one door or panel and door certified as at least 30 minute fire resistant (FD30) between the kitchen and flat front door.
  • If the flat front door is replaced, this must be done by a professional contractor, the door must have a wooden appearance reasonably matching that fitted originally and it must have a self-closer (which may be concealed). If the original fire protection in the flat has been maintained, the door must be certified as at least 30 minute fire resistant and be fitted with ambient temperature smoke seals (FD30S) to meet current building regulations (seals were not required when the flats were built). If the original fire protection in the flat has been reduced in any way, the door must be certified as at least 60 minute fire resistant and be fitted with intumescent fire seals (FD60S) to protect other parts of the building and other residents. The Management Company will require to see evidence of the fire protection and copies of fire resistance certificates after the work.
  • If any changes are made to fire protection, a certified fire and smoke alarm must be fitted, preferably mains powered with battery back up. This is strongly recommended anyway and is required by law if sub-letting.

Work must not obstruct the flat block communal area or fire exits. Building waste may only be stored for a short period in the flat's parking space and must be removed by a licensed waste contractor by law. If a skip is required, this requires separate consent and will also be subject to conditions.

Additional requirements and conditions, set out on the emergency page, are necessary for work during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

Alarm

Burglar Alarms

Flat owners are permitted to install professional burglar alarms subject to conditions to minimise nuisance to other residents. The alarm must be installed by a qualified SSAIB installer, be NSI approved, meet the current European standards and meet ACPO DD243 requirements. Non SSAIB alarm systems, particularly DIY ones, are not permitted. The alarm box must be installed by the bedroom window of 1-bed flats and between the bedroom windows of 2-bed flats so that the resident will hear and can silence any false alarm at night.

Owners wishing to install a burglar alarm will be required as a condition of consent to repair or pay for any damage that may be caused and pay for removal if the conditions are not met. They must obtain consent in advance from the Management Company, preferably using St Benedicts Online, otherwise by completing and emailing a scan of the form available there to the Managing Agent. Full details of the system must be provided with the application and, after installation, a copy of the SSAIB certificate must be provided.

Any system installed that does not meet the criteria above, where the alarm box is in the wrong location or for which an SSAIB certificate is not provided is liable to be removed at the owner's expense.

No Satellite Dishes

Satellite Television

Community Vision provides access to Sky satellite television broadcasts in the blocks of leasehold flats. There is a single satellite dish, installed on the roof or high on a wall, and their installation fee covers providing wiring from this communal system to your flat. Community Vision can be contacted on 01892 722887.

Residents of leasehold flats may not install satellite dishes or any other aerials. These are not allowed under the legal agreements for the properties. Owners must ensure that any tenants are aware of this restriction. If you do install a dish or an aerial, you will be required to remove it and make good any damage and, if this is not done promptly, contractors will do so at the owner's expense. You may also be liable to the supplying company for loss of its equipment and for payments for the remainder of the contract period.

Key

Security Key System

Entrance doors to blocks of flats have a secure master key system. This was introduced around 2013-14 at the discretion of the Management Company for the security and safety of residents. Security keys cannot readily be copied as they require machinery protected by patent and reputable locksmiths will refuse to copy security keys. The system and keys are supplied and all work must be carried out by Saxon Security Locks, owners may not arrange work. Each flat is provided with three keys, as came with the flat originally, so purchasers need to ensure sellers give them all the keys. Owners, agents and tenants must take good care of keys for the security and safety of other flat owners and residents and recover all keys from leaving tenants.

Additional and replacement security keys will only be supplied if there is a genuine need, after investigation of the circumstances of any loss or theft and assessment of the risk this poses to others. If the report is inaccurate, someone evicted retains a key, there is address information with the keys or more than one key is lost demonstrating lack of care, replacement of the lock cylinder and keys for all owners and residents of flats on the staircase will be required at the expense of that flat's owner (around £200 to £400 depending on the number of flats in the block). In other cases, if the risk is assessed as low, up to two additional or replacement keys may be authorised for purchase to a maximum of five per flat. You are advised to have insurance that covers costs of key loss. For security, only flat owners (not letting agents or tenants) can apply for security keys, although owners can nominate an agent or tenant to collect keys, only a Management Company Director can authorise keys (not the Managing Agent) and authorisation can only be sent to an address known already or delivered to the flat.

Security keys must be collected from Saxon's shop in Tooting and, for safety, cannot be posted. The collector needs to take the authorisation, proof of identity (such as passport, identity card, driving licence or bank card) and, if required, proof of address (such as tenancy agreement or recent utility bill), to Saxon within one month. Saxon will retain the signed authorisation and supply the key(s), for which they will need to pay if additional or a replacement (around £11 in 2022).

To request additional or replacement security keys, preferably appply using St Benedicts Online, otherwise by completing and emailing a scan of the form available there to the Managing Agent. You must provide all the information requested on the form including the full circumstances of any loss and ensure the named collector can visit Saxon within one month. If you do not, this will cause delay.

Key safe

Key Safes

If a key safe is required to give access to a flat, for example to allow medical staff to enter, you must purchase one approved by the police. This is necessary to avoid compromising insurance cover. The only type approved is the Supra C500 model from The Key Safe Company. As this must be attached to the brick wall, permission from the Management Company is required in advance, preferably using St Benedicts Online, otherwise by completing and emailing a scan of the form available there to the Managing Agent. When the key safe is no longer required, it must be removed and you will have to repair the wall, otherwiie this will be done at your expense.

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© St Benedicts (Tooting) Management Company Limited - 13 June 2022