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What is a Licence to Alter?

Tuesday, 9th August 2016 | by: Justin Burns

A leasehold owner proposing structural or material changes to their property will generally require the consent of their Landlord under the terms of the lease. Such consent must not be unreasonably withheld but will typically be provided in the form of a written Licence to Alter (or License for Alternations) so that the interests of the Landlord and any other affected leasehold owners in the building are protected.

The legal document will generally be drafted by the Landlord’s solicitor and then revised following input from a surveyor to reflect the specific details of the proposed work and the characteristics of the building.

The following are examples of works that are likely to require Landlord’s consent:

  • The removal of loadbearing walls or formation of new openings
  • Changing windows
  • Switching from soft floor coverings to wood flooring
  • Installing additional bathrooms or WCs

The first step will generally involve the leaseholder approaching their Landlord or managing agent with details of the work that they wish to undertake. Those details will likely be passed to the Landlord’s surveyor to review and to determine whether a License to Alter is required.

Assuming that a license is required full details of the proposed works, including detailed drawings and a specification must be prepared and submitted for review. The leaseholder is responsible for their Landlord’s reasonable professional fees.

Once full information is available and an undertaking in respect of fees has been provided a site visit will generally be arranged so that the surveyor can consider the proposals in context and schedule the condition of any adjoining properties that might be affected by the works.

When the surveyor has completed his review of the proposals he will report to the Landlord and suggest that the formal Licence to Alter document is drafted by solicitors. Once the document has been checked by the surveyor it is issued to the parties for signature and any security deposit paid prior to works commencing.

While the works are in progress the surveyor will visit from time to time depending upon the complexity of the works and will make a final inspection upon completion.

If the works require Building Regulation approval a copy of the completion certificate will be issued to the Landlord together with drawings confirming any changes to the original design prior to the deposit being returned and final letters being sent.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 7183 2578 or by email should you require any advice in respect of proposed alterations to a leasehold property requiring a License to Alter.