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Property Surveying Blog
Written by Tughan Musa

Licence to AlterIf you are planning on undertaking works to your property and you live in a flat, most likely there will be some form of lease in place.

The lease will govern the types of works that you can undertake to your flat, and will ultimately mean that the leaseholder needs to obtain the written consent, in the form of a license to alter from the freeholder.

The majority of leases are quite vague on the works that require freeholder consent, however generally speaking these will include structural alterations that are made to the flat, such as:

  • The removal of load-bearing walls.
  • Changing windows.
  • Changing floor coverings, commonly this would be from carpet to a hard covering such as timber, laminate or tiles.
  • Adding or changing wet areas, for example changing the location of a kitchen, bathroom, or adding one of these rooms.
  • Major works.  This is generally speaking a combination of any of the above.
  • Minor works.  Generally speaking, these are considered low risk however will still need the freeholder’s consent.  These can include removal of non-load bearing partitions, or changes to boilers, electrical supplies and so forth.

So how can you get a License to Alter?

The first thing to do will be to establish if the works you are undertaking fall within the scope of a license to alter, it is therefore advisable to have a good read of the lease to see what the works clause within it confirms.

Nine times out of ten works that leaseholders are undertaking will fall within the realm of a license to alter, and therefore they will need to follow the process of getting Licence for Alterations.

This starts by getting in touch with the freeholder, to confirm if they want to have their own surveyor, solicitor, or deal with it informally.  If they opt for a formal option such as surveyor or solicitor input, generally speaking the professional’s role will be to review the works from the perspective of the wider property and fellow leaseholders, to ensure that the risk, short term nuisance and finally long term nuisance are all reduced to the lowest that they can possibly be.

There is no set pro forma or list of points that a freeholder can request of a leaseholder, however, generally speaking, any points that are discussed need to be reasonable and akin to the type of works that are taking place.

This type of information could be in the form of;

  • Structural calculations
  • Health and safety statements
  • Building Regulation applications and approvals
  • Planning permissions and approvals
  • Method statement for the works
  • Information on the structural design
  • Information on acoustic underlay
  • Fire and gas safety certificates
  • Electrical safety certificates

To name a few.

License to alter matters can become quickly complicated, and therefore we always advise that any leaseholder undertaking works speak to a surveyor at the earliest opportunity.

Likewise, we recommend that any freeholder whose leaseholders want to undertake works that fall within the realm of a license to alter, always speak to a surveyor to establish the exact type of information that they should be requesting, and ultimately to determine if a surveyor can be of assistance to them.

Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we undertake license to alter throughout London and would be happy to assist with your license to alteration needs.  If you would like to speak to one of our experienced and qualified surveyors, give us a call now and we will be happy to assist you.

You can read a little more about Licence to Alter requirements on our dedicated page.