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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:


Special Foundations
Structural Alterations

Commonly the removal of chimney breasts, load-bearing walls or creating openings within walls.

Defective Windows
Changing Windows

Commonly changing a frame that has reached the end of its useful life, or replacing the type of glazing.

Changes in Floor Coverings
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
Adding/Changing Wet Areas

Commonly when an en suite bathroom is added, or a kitchen or bathroom is moved within the property.

Party Wall Surveyor
Major Works

Generally considered to be a combination of the works, importantly including structural alterations.

Minor Works
Minor Works

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.

Step 1: Confirming if a Licence to Alter is required

In order to obtain a licence to alter from your freeholder, you will need to start by informing them of the proposed construction work you intend to undertake to your property.

In our experience, the best way to do this is to send them a set of drawings illustrating the proposed works.

Step 2: Initial Surveyor Technical Review and Comment

Upon receipt of the drawings, the freeholder will then likely instruct a Chartered Surveyor to review the proposed works and confirm if a licence to alter is indeed required.

Assuming the leaseholder’s proposed works will require a licence to alter, the Chartered Surveyor will then advise the freeholder of the information required in order to consider the licence to alter request.

In our experience, this is commonly all or a combination of the following information:

• Specification of works

• Existing and proposed construction drawings

• Method statements for certain elements of the work

• Structural Calculations

• Contractor insurance policy schedule

• Work Schedules

• Health and Safety Statements

• Building Regulation Approvals

• Planning Permission Approvals

• Other specific information based on the work

Step 3: Further Surveyor Technical Review and Comment

Once the freeholder’s Surveyor has all of the information required to hand, the Surveyor will then usually undertake an inspection of the property.

The Surveyor’s visit determines the specific requirements that the leaseholder will need to adhere to, during the course of the proposed work.

In our experience these requirements can commonly include all or a combination of the following information:

• The requirement for a Schedule of Condition Report to be completed of the communal areas, external areas or adjoining leaseholder properties

• A security deposit to be held on account in the event that the works cause damage to the freeholder’s property or another leaseholder’s property

• The requirement for an impartial engineer to review the structural scheme and comment on the applicability or overall design

• Construction work specific changes, for example in certain cases an adjoining leaseholder may have undertaken similar works thereby requiring a structural change

• Working hour restrictions

• Other construction works specific requirements

Once the Surveyor has all of the information he requires to hand, he will then make a number of recommendations to the freeholder, as to the type of clauses that should be entered within the Licence to Alter.

Step 4: Solicitor drafting of the Licence to Alter

The Freeholder’s solicitor will now draft the licence, include the freeholder’s surveyor recommendations and insertions and will then send this over to the freeholder’s Surveyor for final review.

Step 5: Agreeing and Issuing the Licence to Alter

Once the final Licence to Alter content has been agreed, this will be issued to both the Freeholder and Leaseholder for signature and service.

Step 6: The Leaseholder commences the proposed works

Once the leaseholder has obtained the licence to alter, they are free to commence their proposed works.

As part of the terms of the licence to alter they will commonly need to adhere to the various protective provisions within the Licence to Alter, in our experience these commonly include:

• Temporary protections to the communal areas of the building, this will usually mean laying protective sheeting to the entrance, stairs, lifts etc

• The use of hand tools or non-percussive tools to ensure the risk of damage is kept to a minimum

• Working within the specified working hours

• Allowing the freeholder’s surveyor access for the interim, or various interim inspections

• Providing building control certificates once issued

• Providing ‘as built’ drawings upon completion of the works

• Providing any other regulatory approvals or construction work specific approvals

• Cleaning the communal areas upon completion of the works

When all of the works are complete, the freeholder’s surveyor will re-inspect and check off those areas that were covered within any Schedule of Condition Reports.

The surveyor will also check the works have been completed in accordance with the Licence to Alter and will conclude matters by signing off the Licence to Alter.

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.

Here’s some Licence of Alterations we have assisted on in the past:

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