As a leaseholder, if you want to make structural or material changes to your property then you will need to obtain a Licence to Alter (LTA), also known as a Licence for Alterations from your freeholder.
The LTA is a written document that essentially provides you with consent from your landlord (landlord’s consent) for you to make the changes that you want to make to your property.
The LTA protects both you and the landlord, while also taking account the interests of any other leaseholders that may be affected by the changes you are making to the property.
How difficult is a LTA to get?
The LTA shouldn’t be too difficult to get as the landlord must not unreasonable withhold consent to such changes. The LTA process itself starts by you approaching the landlord. This can either be done informally, tenant to landlord or tenant’s advisor to the landlord.
The tenant or their advisor will need to confirm the details of the proposed works that they wish to undertake. The landlord will then likely pass the information onto their Solicitors and/or Surveyors. They will review the work to be done and determine whether a formal LTA is required and the type of information they will require to progress the matter.
What is the LTA Process?
There is not a legal or prescribed approach to this, however, generally speaking the landlord’s Solicitor will draft up a legal document that sets out various clauses and provisions that the tenant needs to adhere to through the course of the on site works.
This travelling document will then be revised following information received from the Surveyors and Engineers and before it is agreed, it will have likely gone through at lease 3-5 rounds of comments.
You should be aware as the leaseholder that you are liable for any reasonable professional fees that the landlord incurs as part of this process. The keyword here is reasonable! The landlord’s fee will generally include their professional advisors’ fees (Surveyors, Solicitors, Engineers) fees and are often payable in advance by the tenant.
When it comes to the LTA then this will need to include full details of the changes to be made to the tenant’s property. This will also include detailed drawings and a full specification of the works, as well as any other reasonable information pertinent to the agreement of the licence. Once complied and in full, this will then be reviewed by the freeholder’s Surveyor for comment, review, request and discussion.
The Solicitor will then proceed and draft the license at this stage, albeit it will be a basic version subject to review and further input.
The Surveyor will continually review this travelling document as they may need to add to it as their role progresses and more information becomes available.
What are the next steps?
Once there is a draft LTA document, usually a Surveyor’s site visit and inspection will be arranged.
This part of the process ensures that the Surveyor can get an idea of the changes in context of the property and building as a whole. This step is particularly important in assessing any impact upon neighbouring properties that may not yet have been considered and following on from here, there will usually be additions to the travelling draft LTA to include temporary protections.
What are the final steps?
Once the Surveyor has completed his review of the proposals and fully advised the landlord, he will go back to the Solicitor and may advise any additional clauses or provisions that need to be inserted into the LTA.
The requests at this stage are usually the final ones that form part of the LTA.
What are the additional requirements?
During the project, the Surveyor will most likely visit the site from time to time and review the work completed to that date.
This of course depends on the size of the project, the type of works that are being undertaken and the risk or complexity of the works.
The Surveyor will also review the work once it has been completed, via a post work inspection. Again, this depends on the same above points.
Licence to Alter procedures can often be a maze and in many cases, the leaseholder or tenant can find themselves lost in the formality of the procedures. If you are planning on undertaking works to your property, get in touch with a Surveyor early in the process.