Licence for Alterations

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If you own a leasehold property, you may want to carry out structural and/or non-structural works to your property. It is important to check whether the Landlord’s formal consent is required under the terms of the lease before making any changes.

How do I know if I need a licence for alterations?

This depends on the scope of the intended works and the clauses in your lease. The most common alterations which typically require a licence to alter, include:-
• Altering the structure;
• Making internal alterations to the layout;
• Installing new sanitary facilities;
• Changing windows or entrance doors;
• Replacing carpet with wooden flooring;
• Installing a new heating or alternative service installations.

The above is not an exhaustive list and you will need to check the specific clauses in your lease. If the lease does not contain any specific clauses relating to alterations, it may be possible to carry out the works without the need for a formal licence for alterations.

If the lease does contain restrictions, it is important to check the wording carefully. The clause will usually fall into one of the following categories:-
• Absolute Covenant: This is an absolute prohibition on alterations. Alteration works cannot be carried out unless the Landlord agrees to alter or waive enforcement of this clause.
• Qualified Covenant: This prohibits alterations without the Landlord’s consent.
• Fully Qualified Covenant: This prohibits alterations without the Landlord’s consent but will set out that such consent should not be unreasonably withheld.

Procedure for Obtaining a licence for alterations

You will need to notify your landlord of the exact proposed works and this will typically require preparation of design drawings. Once your Landlord has agreed to the proposed works in principle, you will need to instruct a solicitor to agree terms and complete the licence for alterations. The document is usually prepared by the Landlord’s solicitor and you are expected to meet the landlord’s legal and survey costs as well as your own.

A licence for alterations will typically contain obligations in respect of the following:-
• A timescale for commencement and/or completion of the works;
• A requirement that works will be carried out in compliance with planning and building regulations, and in accordance with good working practices;
• To seek consent from the building insurer and meet the cost of any additional premium prior to commencement of works.

Deed of variation following a licence for alterations

If the works will result in a variation of the extent of the property, (i.e. if the property will be extended) it may be necessary to vary the lease by a deed of variation following completion to reflect the new dimensions of the property.

Consequences of not obtaining a licence for alterations

If the lease stipulates that landlord’s consent is required and works are carried out without obtaining such consent, this will be a breach of the terms of the lease. The landlord may take enforcement action, and the lack of consent may create challenges on a future sale of the property. If works have been carried out without consent, a future buyer may require you to obtain retrospective consent which may be more costly and delay the sale transaction or, request that you meet the cost of indemnity insurance for lack of consent.