Licence To Alter
What is a Licence to Alter?
A licence to alter is required when a leaseholder intends to undertake alterations to their property.
Under the terms of their lease, they will require freeholder’s written and formal consent to their proposed work, with this consent being is in the form of a licence to alter.
Do my works need a licence to alter?
In order to competently answer this question, we would need to review both the construction drawings and review the lease.
Once we have done that, we would then be able to confirm if indeed the proposed construction works would require a licence to alter from the freeholder.
In our experience some of the most typical construction works that require a licence to alter are as follows:
Commonly the removal of chimney breasts, load-bearing walls or creating openings within walls.
Commonly changing a frame that has reached the end of its useful life, or replacing the type of glazing.
Changes in Floor Coverings
Commonly from carpet (also known as a soft covering) to timber or laminate boards (known as a hard covering).
Adding/Changing Wet Areas
Commonly when an en suite bathroom is added, or a kitchen or bathroom is moved within the property.
Generally considered to be a combination of the works, importantly including structural alterations.
Generally considered to be a combination of the works, importantly not including structural alterations.
How can I get a Licence to Alter?
If you need to obtain a licence to alter you will need to follow these steps.
Who pays for the Licence to Alter costs?
The leaseholder is responsible for the costs of obtaining a licence to alter.
These costs can extend to the freeholder’s review, the freeholder’s Surveyor’s review and finally the freeholder’s solicitor’s costs in preparing the Licence to Alter.
Over the years we have dealt with hundreds of Licences to Alter and have seen costs range from the hundreds of pounds to upward of ten thousand pounds.
Before you proceed with the licence to alter, we would recommend speaking to our experienced team of Chartered Surveyors about the potential costs involved thereby ensuring you are best placed to proceed.
Can the Licence to Alter be refused?
The Landlord and Tenant Acts of 1927 and 1954, confirm that a landlord, also commonly referred to as a freeholder, cannot unreasonably withhold or refuse a licence to alter request.
Therefore, providing the leaseholder meets all of the reasonable freeholder’s requests, they should be able to successfully agree and obtain a licence to alter with their freeholder.
What happens if I don’t get a Licence to Alter and still proceed with the proposed construction works?
Proceeding with construction work without having a licence to alter is a breach of the lease and in extreme circumstances could lead to forfeiture of your lease.
At the very least, you will likely have issues when selling the property as the incoming buyer’s solicitor will flag up the unauthorized works and the requirement for the licence to alter.
In our experience, this could stall the sale of your property and could even effect the value.
Licence to Alter Fixed Costs:
Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we believe Surveying costs should be transparent, fixed and never include any hidden extras.
All of our Licence to Alter costs are fixed and include all of the necessary steps to go from initial freeholder review all the way up to the licence to alter sign off.
Studio Flat Fees from £950 + VAT
1 Bedroom Flat Fees from £1,050 + VAT
2 Bedroom Flat Fees from £1,150 + VAT
3 Bedroom plus Flat Fees from £1,250 + VAT
Typical Licence for Alterations Questions
How long do the Licence for Alterations procedures take?
This is a tricky one to answer as it very much depends on the construction works taking place, the construction information available, and the freeholder or freeholder’s agent or Surveyor.
From our perspective, we will aim to inspect the property within 2 – 3 days of being instructed.
Once our Surveyor has undertaken the inspection, assuming all of the information required is in place and the freeholder’s Surveyor accommodates a prompt turnaround, we will then aim to have the completed licence or report with you in 5 – 7 days.
What information will I require?
This is a tricky one to answer as it very much depends on the construction works taking place.
Generally, we would advise ensuring the following information is available:
- Existing and Proposed Drawings
- A Specification of Works
- The Contractor’s Insurance Certificate
- Confirmation of when the works will commence and the duration
- Confirmations of Statutory Requirements such as planning permissions or Building Regulations Approvals
- Structural Calculations (if structural works are taking place)
We would advise getting in touch with us directly to discuss the works that are taking place so that we can fully advise you of the information that will be required.
Am I allowed to undertake the construction works?
This will very much depend on the wording of your lease and if it is deemed as qualifying or not.
We would advise speaking with a solicitor at the first instance to establish if you have the legal right to undertake the proposed works.
Ideally, this should be done in advance of instructing your design team as that may avoid abortive costs from them.
Do I need to inform my neighbours?
From a legal perspective, you don’t need to notify your neighbours. However, from a neighbourly perspective, we would advise doing this as soon as possible to ensure they are fully informed.
As part of our Licence for Alterations Services, we will do this on your behalf to ensure future neighbourly relations are upheld.
Will you communicate with the freeholder or leaseholder?
Yes, as standard our service includes all communications with the freeholder and any neighbouring owners.
These communications extend to pre, during and post-construction work.