22 June 2018 by Joyce Cooper

Permission to alter leasehold property

Are you purchasing a flat or leasehold property with the intention to make alterations or do you already own a leasehold property and are considering a refurbishment?

Whether the proposed alterations are structural or non-structural, major or minor, it is essential that you ensure what you plan is allowed before you start work.

Your lease may prohibit the works you have planned so you must check to see which types of alterations (if any) are permitted. For example, some leases do not allow structural alterations to be carried out but will permit internal alterations which change the layout of the property.

It is common for certain types of alterations only to be permitted subject to obtaining your landlord’s prior consent.  Failure to obtain any necessary consent in advance would put you in breach of the terms of your lease and your landlord may take action against you to remedy any breach.  One option is that the landlord can require you to reinstate the property to its former state, this will be disruptive and costly.  Alternatively, if you are lucky, the landlord might agree to give you retrospective consent but it will still end up costing you for the privilege.

Landlord’s consent for alterations is usually contained in a legal document called a “licence”.  To enable your landlord to consider a request for consent and grant you a licence, you will need to make a formal application attaching plans and specifications detailing the proposed works.  Your landlord will then usually appoint a surveyor to look at the works you propose and to advise the landlord whether the works may be approved or adjustments to the proposals need to be made.  You need to be aware that you will be responsible for payment of your landlord’s reasonable legal and surveyor’s costs in considering the application and granting the licence.

The licence will not only permit you to carry out the works but will also set out how and to what level of quality the works must be carried out.  It will also give the landlord rights to inspect the works to ensure that the works are carried out in accordance with the terms of the licence and to the landlord’s satisfaction.

In some circumstances the landlord may require you to pay a deposit as security in the event that the works cause damage to any adjoining property or the common parts of the building.  The Landlord or the managing agents will hold this until completion of the works but it needs to be accounted for as an upfront cost.

In addition to the licence from your landlord, you will also need to consider whether any other consents are required.  For example:

Planning permission.  If you are extending your property or carry out substantial works planning permission from your Local Authority may also be required.

Listed Building Consent.  If your flat is within a listed building, you will require listed building consent to alter or extend the flat in any way that affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.  Even if the works do not need planning permission, they may require listed building consent.

Mortgage consent.  If you have a mortgage or other loan secured against your flat, you may need the approval of your lender to carry out the works.

The best advice must be to first check your lease before commencing any work.  If you require consent then you need to budget for the additional costs and follow the legal procedure outlined above.

If you have any queries regarding this article  please contact Joyce Cooper in our Enfranchisement Team on 020 7288 4727 or email her at joycecooper@boltburdon.co.uk

You can contact one of our other Enfranchisement Solicitors here.

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