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Understanding Licence for Alterations: What Tenants & Landlords Should Know

Understanding Licence for Alterations: What Tenants & Landlords Should Know

A Licence for Alterations is a legal document that grants a tenant permission to make specific or alteration works to their property. The document, which outlines the terms and conditions of the agreement, is typically drawn up by the landlord’s solicitor for the tenant’s approval and at the tenant’s expense.

When is a Licence to Alterations required?

Tenants require a licence for alterations before making alterations. The tenant will have to refer to the exact wording of the lease to obtain the relevant consent from the landlord.

Three types of covenants could appear within the lease:

(1)         Absolute Covenant

This covenant strictly prohibits any alterations from the tenant. Hence, the tenant will only be able to make the desired alteration to the property when the landlord decides to waive the agreement.

(2)         Qualified covenant

The tenant cannot make alterations until they receive consent from the landlord.

(3)         Fully qualified covenant

This implies that the tenant may be able to make alterations only with the landlord’s consent, and such consent should not be unreasonably withheld (section 19(2) The Landlord and Tenants Acts 1927).

It is normally permissible to conduct minor works within the property, but it is prudent that the leaseholders double-check the terms of the lease before commencing any works.

There are two types of work that the tenant may seek to conduct: –

Major works

It normally constitutes substantial works, which may require planning permission and be subject to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Examples of major works:-

  • Structural alterations, such as changing the sizes of rooms/kitchens, or removing a wall.
  • Fitting a new kitchen or utility room.
  • Installing a new heating system.
  • Making external alterations, such as replacement of windows or doors.

Minor works

It is intended for minor, non-structural works, which do not require planning permission, but will be subject to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Examples of minor works:-

  • Putting up new shelves and cupboards
  • Redecorating
  • Laying out new carpets

The Alterations Protocol

Tenant’s duties

The main responsibility of the tenant is to prepare and present a scope of alterations required to the landlord. This includes but is not limited to the following: –

  • A description of the works
  • Drawings of the design and the layout
  • Structure of the works
  • Building services drawings
  • Specification
  • Risk assessment
  • A copy of the notifiable project F10 Form – Applies where the construction work is likely to last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project.
  • Evidence of the required regulatory documents, such as planning permission, building regulations permission and other statutory approvals.
  • Evidence of compliance with the Party Wall Act.

Once the landlord accepts the scope of work from the tenant, all details will be recorded in the licence for alterations.

Landlord’s duties

Landlord should confirm receipt of the tenant’s request within five working days. They should then confirm whether they accept, withhold or refuse the application within a reasonable time. Landlord cannot refuse a request from the tenant without a reasonable objection. If the landlord decides to withhold a request, they are required to write to the tenant with proof for justification regarding the grounds for objection, this must be conducted within a reasonable period.

Failure to comply with a Licence for Alterations

If a tenant fails to seek for landlord’s permission (when required) before commencing any alteration works, it may lead to the following consequences:

  • Breach of the lease, which may result in the landlord seeking enforcement action against the tenant.
  • Although retrospective consent may be obtained, it is difficult and costly once the alterations have been commenced and completed. The landlord can even demand the tenant to return the property in the same condition as was before the commencement of the lease as they reasonably see fit.

Therefore, complying with the alterations protocol will assist both tenants and landlords to prevent unnecessary and costly disputes. It also enhances the communication between the landlord and the tenant.

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