I Live in a Leasehold Flat – What Alterations and Changes Can I Make to it?

By Davinia Willys

Senior Associate

You may need the consent of your Landlord so please check the terms of your Lease carefully, in particular the ‘alterations’ clause and consider the extent of the flat leased to you. Some leases require consent for structural alterations only, whilst others require consent to be obtained for any kind of alteration. In most cases, you will need to get a Licence to Alter from the Landlord/Freeholder giving you consent to make the changes. You might be planning to make changes to the windows in your flat or an extension or loft conversion if you live in a top floor flat. If you are planning on painting walls, putting up shelves or replacing the floor please check the Lease first to see if you need consent from the Landlord.

The law states that Landlords/Freeholders cannot withhold permission to make alterations without good reason and consent to ‘improvements’ is not to be unreasonably withheld. The law also allows your Landlord to charge a reasonable sum for legal or other expenses such as surveyors costs, checking of the works and any solicitors costs incurred in preparing a Licence to Alter. You are not required however to pay excessive administrative fees. 

What happens if your Landlord charges you a premium (lump sum payment) as a condition of granting consent to reflect any increase in value of your flat as a result of the works? This will all depend on whether the works are to the flat only or if the works involve part of the wider building in which the flat is situated and part of the building retained by the Landlord. For example, if you are planning an extension you may need to cut into the external walls not leased to you and retained by the landlord. If the works are solely to your flat, any lump sum demanded is likely to be considered an unreasonable refusal of consent. However, if the works affect the wider building, the Landlord is not obliged by law to grant consent and so can charge you a premium.

Failure to obtain your landlord’s consent will most likely breach the terms of the Lease with the ultimate sanction of forfeiture (termination) of the Lease. Also note, obtaining consent from the Landlord can sometimes take a period of time which you will need to factor in when making other decisions, such as appointing builders or decorators. Never make any changes to your flat without first checking the terms of your Lease carefully. Please also remember you will need to obtain any necessary planning permission and buildings regulations consent from the local authority. When you come to sell your flat an incoming purchaser will also want confirmation you obtained consent for any works undertaken. If you are planning works and are unsure about the terms of your Lease please do contact us for advice.

For more information and to find out how we can help you, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.