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Licence to Alter

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Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
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04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
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09 November, 23
Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
Sarah Shanks,
21 November, 23
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About

A Licence to Alter is a legal document that allows a person to make changes to a property. The person who owns the property is known as the 'licence holder' and the person who is making the changes is known as the 'licence taker'. The licence holder must be the owner of the property or have permission from the owner to grant the licence.Next steps

How much does a Licence to Alter cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a Licence to Alter is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £650-£1,250 but in some cases it could cost as much as £1,500.

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When you’re living in a leasehold property, making changes often requires permission from the landlord. Wondering about the ins and outs of this process? You’re in the right place. This page is your go-to guide for all things related to a Licence to Alter. We’ll cover when you might need one and break down the process for you in a way that’s easy to understand. 

licence-to-alter

What is a licence to alter?

A Licence to Alter (sometimes called a Licence for Alterations) is a legal document a leaseholder needs to get in order to make major alterations to their leasehold property (such as a house or flat).

It spells out when and how alterations can be carried out, making sure both leaseholder and freeholder are aware of the changes and avoiding potential disputes. 

Why do you need a Licence to Alter?

A Licence to Alter is often necessary because most leases contain restrictions on alterations. In some leases any changes to the property are strictly forbidden. While with others, a freeholder may have to get the freeholder’s permission before they can carry out any alterations. 

The reason these conditions exist in a lease is because while a leaseholder owns the property for the duration of the lease, the freeholder still has an interest in that property and they’re likely to want to know when any significant changes are carried out to make sure they don’t impact the properties value.

When do you need a Licence to Alter?

When a Licence to Alter is required depends on the terms of the lease and the type of changes a leaseholder wants to make to a property. 

Generally, commercial leases say one of three things: 

  • Alterations are a straight up no. A leaseholder can ask, but if the landlord says no, it’s a hard no;

  • Alterations aren’t allowed unless the landlord agrees;

  • Alterations aren’t allowed unless the landlord agrees but they must have a legitimate reason for withholding consent. 

A Licence to Alter isn’t generally needed for minor improvements like painting a hallway or renovating kitchens and bathrooms, provided work doesn’t affect the structure of exterior of the building. 

However, if you’re a leaseholder with dreams of extending a property or recladding it, it’s likely you’ll need consent from the freeholder to undertake this. 

A word of caution, however: Always check the terms of the lease before carrying out any renovations. Terms can vary and interpretation of them might be subjective. For example, you might believe installing an aerial on the roof of your property is perfectly reasonable, only to get a nasty shock when it turns out this is forbidden under the terms of the lease. 

Possible consequences of carrying out alterations without a Licence to Alter

If a leaseholder carries out alterations without getting a Licence to Alter they are in breach of the lease agreement and the freeholder may have grounds to take legal action which could result in the leaseholder having to return the property back to its original condition, which could be costly. In extreme cases, a breach of the terms of the lease could result in the leaseholder forfeiting the lease

Alongside this, renovations made without proper authorisation can potentially impact the property’s value, making it less attractive to potential buyers. This can be especially true for buyers who are familiar with leases and their terms, who might be hesitant to buy a property which has unauthorised alterations because it can be difficult to secure a mortgage. 

With all the above in mind, it’s very important to get a Licence to Alter before making alterations to a leasehold property in order to avoid headaches down the line. We know, we know, it might seem like a pain. But there’s a good reason you should do it, and a good property solicitor can help make the process smooth sailing. 

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How to get a Licence to Alter 

how-to-get-a-licence-to-alter

Again, the process to get a Licence to Alter will depend on the lease agreement. But generally, the process goes as follows: 

  1. The leaseholder gives the landlord a detailed proposal of the work;

  2. The freeholder decides whether to give consent or not, and under what conditions; 

  3. The freeholder’s solicitor will create a draft Licence for Alterations, including conditions; 

  4. The leaseholder (and their solicitor) review the Licence to Alter and the attached conditions to decide whether they are reasonable. 

  5. If it is agreed, the Licence to Alter becomes legally binding and renovations can begin under the agreed conditions. 

What conditions can be attached to a Licence for Alterations?

The answer to this question depends on the freeholder, however they may include: 

  • Letting the landlord of freeholder monitor the work or inspect it when completed; 

  • Putting the onus on the leaseholder to carry out all the administration involved in the renovations process, like seeking planning permission and getting the appropriate insurance; 

  • Restrictions on when work can be carried out (for example, not in the evenings or on weekends); 

  • An agreement by the leaseholder to take responsibility for any damage made to communal areas such as hallways or gardens. 

A leaseholder doesn’t have to agree to the conditions and may wish to negotiate with the help of their solicitor. However, it’s important to note that work cannot go ahead unless the Licence to Alter is agreed upon by both parties and the conditions are met. 

Who pays for a Licence to Alter?

The leaseholder is liable to pay their own costs and the freeholder’s costs in obtaining a Licence to Alter. This can include solicitor’s fees and the cost of any other professionals a landlord may choose to get involved, like surveyors.

The leaseholder making the request will also be liable to pay for anything else related to the renovation works, like planning permission

How much does a Licence for Alterations cost?

The cost of a Licence to Alter can add up quickly, especially if a freeholder decides to involve lots of different professionals before making a decision. Add to that insurance and planning permission fees and it could hit leaseholders hard in the pocket. 

Instructing a commercial property solicitor to help obtain a Licence to Alter can be an effective way of keeping costs down as they can review the lease agreement and ensure all the documentation required to present to the landlord is prepared and correct. 

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a Licence to Alter can range from £650-£1,250, but in more complex cases it could cost north of £1,500. 

Get help from a Licence to Alter solicitor 

At Lawhive, our property solicitors are here to help you get a Licence to Alter for your property so you can make the changes you wish to your property.

They can help you get the job done quickly, and affordably. To get started, contact us to get a free case assessment and no obligation fixed-fee quote from our Licence to Alter solicitors. 

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