Why Do You Need a Licence to Alter?
It is not uncommon for tenants to want to make changes to their property during their ownership perhaps to maximise the space available or to accommodate changes in family life. The extent to which tenants can make those changes will depend on whether the lease contains absolute or qualified covenants; absolute covenants prohibit alterations completely and qualified covenants relate to alterations which are not allowed save with the landlord’s consent. Our bulletin dated 14 February 2017 deals with this more fully.
If you do want to make alterations to your flat, obviously the first step should be to check whether such alterations are allowed under the lease and whether you need your landlord’s consent. If you undertake work on your property without the requisite consent then you are exposed to a breach of lease claim.
Work such as internal redecoration does not usually need the landlord’s consent. However, alterations involving changes to the fabric or structure of the building, external redecoration or changing around of rooms which involve plumbing changes (eg bedroom to a bathroom/kitchen) will usually require landlord’s consent which is provided for in a Licence to Alter.
The Licence to Alter should protect the interests of both the landlord and the tenant. As such, some of the points it should cover are:
- what work is to be undertaken – this is not just by way of a general overview but the necessary work should be itemised as far as possible to include anything that needs to be removed as well as added;
- What consents/planning permissions have been obtained (and copies should also be supplied);
- Whether the landlord or tenant should notify the insurers of the building of the proposed works and obtain their consent;
- When the work should be carried out ie within a certain time frame and within certain weekly hours to minimise the impact of inconvenience on other leaseholders or neighbours;
- What will be allowed in terms of scaffolding or disposal of rubbish (if necessary);
- The standard of work that is to be expected in carrying out the work;
- The extent to which the tenant should pay the landlord’s costs;
The Licence to Alter will often require the involvement of both the landlord’s and tenant’s own solicitors to agree a final draft. However, from a tenant’s point of view, obtaining a Licence will mean that a breach of lease for unauthorised alterations can be avoided and it will also provide security to a new buyer should the tenant wish to sell. If you have any further queries, please contact one of the team on firstname.lastname@example.org.