Making Alterations to a Leasehold Property

Making Alterations to a Leasehold Property

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    Making alterations to a residential leasehold property is not always a simple task. Many leases allow the landlord to charge alteration fees from the leaseholders. A Leasehold Valuation Expert will know about what steps should be taken in such cases.  

    The common questions which are asked by the leaseholders about home repair and improvement are,

    • Can you make alterations to a leasehold property?
    • What fees can a landlord charge to the leaseholder? and does the landlord grant permission to do so?
    • Can you build an extension on a leasehold property?

    Are you facing the same issues as a leaseholder or dealing with any other leasehold problems? Our Leasehold Valuation team can help you out with such leasehold issues.

    Leasehold Property Alterations

    Are you looking to make structural changes to your leasehold property? Then what should you check before proceeding further:

    1. Check your Lease Agreement: Some landlords may grant you permission in the lease only for making minor changes and alterations and some may not grant permission at all without seeking their permission first.
    2. Discuss with the Freeholder/Managing Agent: They will analyze if the proposed arrangement of a leasehold flat will cause any impact on the layout of the flat or will affect neighboring flats.

    Even if landlords permit you to make alterations, they may restrict you by imposing certain conditions that may increase the cost of the works. Some may ask you to revert the alterations to the original at the end of the lease or at the time when you leave the flat in the future.

    You should obtain legal advice from an expert or experienced chartered surveyor. You must seek permission for the alterations and improvements on the leasehold property in regards to building regulations, structural alterations, electricity, pipes leakage repair or gas line work, drilling walls, constructing a new kitchen or bathroom.

    You should also put a Party Wall Award in place between yourselves and your neighbors (even if in an adjacent building)

    The permission for proposed alterations will depend on how large the renovation or the alteration work is. For massive remodelings, the landlord may provide a license for alterations keeping in mind the effect of the alteration on the residential property. Even after leaving the property, it is crucial to know that the lease is planned to preserve the benefit of all the individuals and not harm the flat structure.

    Costs of Alterations:

    With regards the alteration cost, you may also have to pay a fee for the license to alter to the landlord. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1927, Section 19 states that the alterations license or consent permission is not to be irrationally denied, the right of the landlord to claim for the charges of a moderate amount is a legal right of the landlord. This may include administration charges, legal fees, hiring of technicians/engineers, granting a license, and reinstatement clause. 

    The landlord may charge you more than the reasonable cost to make a profit. In October 2017 the Department for Communities and Local Government affirmed that the leaseholders may suffer unfair costs while making alterations to their leasehold property. The Conveyancing Association has concluded that 75 percent of leaseholders are paying unreasonable “regulatory” payments to their landlord or managing agent as standard and that schemes to correct this unreasonable behavior are inadequate.

    In April 2018 the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government stated that the government and authorities will look into this unreasonable behavior and will investigate the fees that are sometimes more than the service charges, which can affect both the leaseholders and freeholders and examined under what conditions they are justified. 

    A leaseholder has the right to question the unreasonable charges, if required, at the First Tier Tribunal or Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. But before applying to the tribunal the leaseholder should speak to a qualified professional in order to understand the application process as well as the law surrounding it. This is a complicated and time-consuming process. Therefore, it is suggested to first have a conversation with a landlord to see if this matter can be resolved.

    If you have any questions or queries regarding the law and regulation of leasehold property alterations then you can contact one of our chartered surveyors without any hesitation.

    Can a premium be imposed as a condition of granting permission?

    This really depends upon what works are being undertaken and also what the lease states about alterations.

    The demised premises are the premises included in the lease agreement. The demise premises do not cover the structural or exterior walls. It includes interior walls, interior roofs, or ceilings. Such elements are described precisely in the lease agreement in detail.

    If the alteration to the demised premises has been accepted then a reasonable premium can be charged by the landlord. If the permission is refused then the leaseholders can ask for advice and help from the court or the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. 

    Alteration to the landowner`s retained property

    The part which is not included in the demised property is the retained property and is a freehold or landlord property. Any alterations to the retained property are highly unlikely to be granted permission by the landlord.

    If you are looking to undertake renovations or alterations, Leasehold Valuation Experts can help you in progressing through this process seamlessly. Call 01753542984 for a 10-minute free consultation for lease queries.

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