Last edited 17 Sep 2020

Licence to alter

It is often necessary for leaseholders to alter premises they occupy, either before they first move in, or because of a need to refurbish the premises or change their operations.

Depending on the conditions of the lease and the nature of the alterations it is likely that a licence to alter will be required from the landlord giving the leaseholder permission to carry out the alterations.

Typically, works that require a licence might include altering; the structure, building services, internal walls or doors, external windows and so on. Minor changes that might be permitted without the permission of the landlord could include; putting up shelves, redecorating, laying new carpets, and so on. Alterations to leasehold premises are a common cause of dispute, and if there is any doubt about whether works require a licence to alter, the landlord should be consulted. Failure to obtain permission could constitute a serious breach of the lease.

Obtaining permission can be time consuming, particularly if it coincides with agreeing the lease itself, and this can present the leaseholder with the difficulty of having to appointing designers and even contractors at risk to carry out works that might not in the end be permitted. It is important therefore that the landlord should be consulted as soon as possible to determine; whether a licence is necessary, the likelihood of permission being granted, the timescale for obtaining a licence and the form of application required.

An application for a licence to alter might include:

The Landlord and Tenant Acts require that permission is not unreasonably withheld, and in some situations, alterations which are necessary to comply with statutory requirements, cannot be withheld.

The licence itself records the agreed changes and the conditions under which those changes must be carried out:

The timing of works associated with a licence to alter can be complicated, particularly when they are associated with the initial move into the premises, and a need to synchronise this with:

Failure to synchronise these activities can result in significant additional costs, or the need for temporary accommodation.

The landlord may wish to inspect the works at commencement, during the construction period and on completion.

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