Why Necessary

Under the terms of most commercial and residential leases a tenant or lessee is prohibited from making alterations without obtaining permission from the landlord first.

The wording of leases varies so great care needs to be taken if a tenant or lessee wants to make alterations. Specialist advice should be taken. Often input is required from both a solicitor and an experienced surveyor.

At LBB we are experienced in dealing with licences for both landlords and tenants, providing expertise and helping clients avoid expensive mistakes. Our expert surveyors are familiar with this work and the terms of commercial and residential leases. Their detailed understanding of building construction and building processes will enable them to guide you through this process.

Disputes between landlords, tenants or lessees can become extremely expensive if alterations are carried out without consent, or if work is carried out to a poor standard.

The cost of dealing with disputes or poor quality work once it has arisen will almost certainly outweigh the cost of getting the proper approvals and carrying out the work properly in the first place.

Where all alterations are prohibited

Occasionally leases prohibit any alterations, and in those circumstances very careful thought needs to be given as to how to best deal with proposed alterations.

Sometimes alterations are proposed where non-demised parts of a property are to become incorporated into the tenants’ accommodation. Typical examples include extending into roof spaces, building on flat roofs or adding terraces or balconies, encroaching into common parts or carrying out external extensions.

Often in these cases not only is a landlord’s permission required but sometimes a premium payment needs to be agreed between the parties. With our blend of Building Surveying and Valuation expertise we are well-placed to assist in the valuation of such premiums.

Where certain types of alteration are prohibited

More often lessees allow certain types of alterations to be carried out, subject to conditions.

A typical lease might permit some internal alterations that do not affect the structure of the building or the external appearance; however you must never assume proposed alterations will be permitted.  It is always essential to check first and take advice.

Careful consideration should be given, even with straightforward alterations as these can sometimes fall foul of lease terms.

Your lease may prohibit you from cutting into the floors or walls, or it may prohibit you from changing windows or making alterations to the internal arrangement of the rooms or services.

When Disputes Arise

John Byers has advised both landlord and tenants regarding alterations for many years and has a wealth of experience in dealing with these matters. He has acted as Expert in litigation between landlords and tenants regarding alterations in a number of cases including:

  • Replacement floors and sound transmission problems
  • Trespass
  • Unlicensed change of use from office units to residential use
  • Breach of restrictive covenants

Click here for more information on the need for an Expert Witness during Litigation.


Advising on Alterations

Our role typically includes:

  • Advising on a tenant’s proposals
  • Negotiating any special conditions to be incorporated in a Licence to Alter
  • Liaising with the client (landlord or lessee) and solicitors
  • Reviewing the works done to confirm compliance with lease terms
  • Checking statutory approvals and completion documents
  • Valuing premiums (where applicable)

Whether you are a tenant wanting to understand the extent of alterations you might be able to carry out or a landlord wanting to obtain expert advice on proposals from one of your tenants we are able to assist.

For further information please contact: John Byers BSc FRICS ACIArb

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