Call us today on
020 7935 2502
Property Surveying Blog
Written by Beau Davies

If a tenant wants to make changes to a property that they are occupying under a lease. Whether this is a commercial premise or a residential property they are required to get the landlords permission before they make any alterations to the property. This simple process is known as getting a Licence for Alterations.

What Does It Cover?

Whether the licence will be granted or not depends on the scope of the works and what the lease states. However, generally you will need to get a licence for alterations if you are making any of the following changes:

  • Changing the Structure.
  • Adding extra Bathrooms or Toilets.
  • Installing or changing the heating system.
  • Anything that requires cutting into an exterior wall.
  • Removing any of the interior walls regardless of their construction.
  • Making Changes to the Windows.

The list is not exhaustive and as mentioned much depends on the wording in your lease. It may even be possible that you are permitted to make changes without permission.

Obtaining Consent

The lease will detail what type of consent is required from the landlord. This can be one of three types depending on the covenant in the lease.

Absolute Covenant

An Absolute Covenant prohibits any changes at all, so unless you can get the landlord to waive the clause then you will not be able to make changes.

Qualified Covenant

A Qualified Covenant means that you cannot make any changes without the landlord’s consent.

Fully Qualified Covenant

A Fully Qualified Covenant which means that you can’t make any changes without the landlord’s consent which will not be unreasonably withheld. If the lease doesn’t mention alterations then you are free to make any alterations you wish without permission.

Why Do You Need It?

From a tenants point of view, you need to establish whether a licence for alterations is required before you commence works.

If you don’t you could either be:

  • In breach of the lease and face potential enforcement action being taken against you.
  • You may have trouble selling the property due to the unregulated changes.
  • It may be more costly and difficult to seek permission retroactively once the work has been completed.

The aim of the Licence For Alterations is to record all works that take place at the property.

Responsibilities of the Tenant

The tenant will be required to provide a detailed scope with specifications and drawings of the proposed work to the landlord. This may require them to undertake surveys and provide design drawings, technical drawings and buildings services drawings.

The tenant will also have to provide an undertaking that all works are being carried out in compliance with all relevant statue’s, by-laws, planning consents and other working regulations and that work is being carried out in accordance with good building practices. It should also be noted that the Licence for Alterations is likely to have a ‘reinstatement’ clause which means that the tenant has to return the property into the condition it was at the start of the lease once the lease is ended.

If you have a Licence for Alterations question you would like one of our experienced party wall surveyors to advise on, why not give us a call now to discuss. We will be more than happy to offer you 30 minutes of free advice.