Solving a Complex License To Alter Issue

24 October 2023 | Written by Beverley Kloos

The challenge 

A leaseholder at a Reading development wanted to install a single storey rear extension. Within the terms of a lease, a leaseholder cannot make alterations without the freeholder’s permission. And freeholders are within their rights to ask for specific pieces of information before they will grant permission. 

In this instance, the freeholder refused permission as they were aware of underlying issues, which could affect the building’s structural integrity. The ground on which the property sat contained gases and the freeholder needed assurance that there was adequate venting to allow the gases to escape. Unfortunately, the leaseholder had not submitted the relevant information to address and alleviate the freeholder’s concerns.  

Innovus Building Surveyor Jonathon Wrangle-Sanders says: “A solution was clearly needed. The freeholder needed to be provided with the correct information to approve the work. Within most leases, the leaseholder must apply in writing to the landlord or freeholder to ask for a license to alter before any alterations to a property can take place.”

The solution 

The property management company responsible for the development looked at the proposed works, understood its complexity, and contacted Innovus for help. We carried out the following actions:  

  • Leaseholder discussions to ascertain what they wanted to achieve and check if the necessary steps had been taken, such as instructing a structural engineer and obtaining building control and planning notices.  
  • Recommendation of the installation of concrete strips with a raised floor to ventilate the gases.  
  • Compilation of a ‘Recommendation Report’, which details the actions to be taken by the leaseholder.  
  • Issuing the Report to the freeholder to review. Sometimes, the freeholder may come back with further questions, which we can also answer or offer advice for.  

Jonathon adds: “I reviewed all of the information to make sure we had everything needed to give the freeholder assurance. For example, the structural engineer’s calculations were vital as a wall needed to be taken out and a lintel beam installed. I needed to be certain that the beam would be structurally sound to fully support the building.” 

The result 

The proposals were fully approved by the freeholder, work went ahead as per the leaseholder’s wishes, and a full site inspection was carried out to ensure all works fully met the specifications agreed.  

We also issued a Certificate of Compliance with Lease Obligations once the final site inspection was complete to officially sign off the works and confirm that the alterations were in line with the freeholder’s approval.   

Jonathon says: “The Licence to Alter process can be complex and we are here to help clients identify and reduce any property risk exposures while maintaining inherent value. My experience enabled me to carefully guide the client and offer specialist advice to achieve the right outcome for everyone involved.”  

Consent and compliance are key considerations for all leaseholders, freeholders, or landlords, who want to make sure any alterations to their apartments or properties are carried out correctly and safely. That’s why it makes sense to work with a partner such as Innovus with the professional surveying skills to smooth out the process and ensure the application is thorough.  

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