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Licence to Alter: The Comprehensive Breakdown [2022]

Last updated:

November 07, 2022

Verified by Lawhive solicitors


A license to alter is a legal document that a leaseholder needs in order to make an alteration to a property.

What is a Licence to Alter?

A licence to alter is a legal document that a leaseholder needs in order to make an alteration to a property. The purpose of a licence to alter is to get the landowner's permission for property alterations and to lay out the conditions on which they should be carried out.

You are expected to get a licence to alter before starting the process of most property alterations.

Some common works that usually require a licence to alter include:

  • Moving structural walls
  • Relocating or adding kitchens, bathrooms etc.
  • Installing or changing central heating systems
  • Changing the flooring type
  • Installing or replacing windows
  • Extending the property (such as loft conversions)

It is important to get a licence to alter if you want to make changes to your property and your lease requires it. Without a licence to alter, you risk breaking the rules of your lease, meaning that your landlord can take take legal action against you. Another consequence for not getting a licence to alter when needed is that the landlord can make you reverse the works you have carried out and claim compensation for any damage done.

Getting a licence to alter can be a complicated process, depending on your lease and the type of works you wish to carry out. It is recommended that you seek advice from an expert surveyor or solicitor, they can help prepare your licence to alter and make sure you get consent from the landlord.

Do I need a solicitor?

A licence to alter is a legal document which you may need the help of an experienced lawyer to prepare.

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Hire a Solicitor

A solicitor can help you throughout every stage of the licence to alter process. A licence to alter is a legal document that can affect your property interests. A solicitor will make sure that all alterations made to the property are done legally and accurately recorded with your best interests in mind. It is recommended that in complicated cases, both the leaseholder and the landlord seek expert advice from a property solicitor.

Hire a Surveyor

Some surveyors provide a licence to alter service. They can help you check your lease, review the alteration, obtain consent from your landlord and draft the licence. People tend to use a surveyor in less complex, low stake licence to alter situations. It is recommended that you get a solicitor’s input if your situation isn’t straightforward.

What steps are involved?

Step 1

Check your Lease

First check the terms of your leaseto find out what improvements are allowed, and any other details about what licence to alter is needed for your particular situation. Most leases have a licence to alter clause. Contact a solicitor for advice if your lease does not have one or if you are unsure how to proceed.

Step 2

Get consent from your Landlord (and other parties)

At this point, the leaseholder should assemble the relevant documents, providing a description of what will change including specific details about the alterations, how they will be achieved, a timeline and any other plans / drawings / calculations. This will be presented to the landlord. The landlord’s solicitor or surveyor will advise on whether it is wise to allow the changes based on how they will impact the property. You may need permission from other people before starting any building work. For example,planning permission , party wall approval, building regulations approval or bank / mortgagor consent.

Step 3

Write the Licence to Alter

The landlord’s solicitor is responsible for preparing the draft Licence to Alter. The landlord might want to include certain clauses like: the ability to inspect / monitor the works, an obligation to obtain planning permission and other insurance approvals, restrictions on working times and an obligation to pay for the repairs if any communal areas are affected. The leaseholder's solicitor will advise on whether the clauses are appropriate given the scope of the works and what is in the lease. Once every part of the licence to alter is agreed and consented to, a solicitor or surveyor will make an application to get it approved.

Step 4

Carry out Alterations

A licence to alter is usually granted where permission from everyone involved has been obtained. Once you have a Licence to Alter you are able to carry out the alterations to the property (in accordance with the condition set out in the licence).

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Evidence and documentation


  • The Lease


  • Alteration Plans
  • Drawings or Calculations of work
  • Risk Assessment
  • Timetable for work being carried out


  • Drafting a Licence to Alter - £689
  • Retrospective Licence to Alter - £879
  • Average cost of £700

Factors that effect cost

  • Type of alterations
  • Level of Cooperation from people involved
  • Whether alterations are included in Lease


  • 2 months on average

Factors that effect time

  • Number of hired professionals
  • Type of alterations
  • Level of Cooperation from people involved


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