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LANDLORD’S CONSENT FOR TENANTS' ALTERATIONS - Image

LANDLORD’S CONSENT FOR TENANTS' ALTERATIONS

After nearly thirty years’ experience involved in the field of tenants’ alterations and the Licence to Alter work, Murray Birrell is perfectly positioned to assist clients in the process of dealing with Landlord’s consent for tenant’s alterations on residential buildings.

We have an experienced team of surveyors and administrative staff led by David Betteridge MRICS, who have extensive experience in dealing with applications from tenants to alter their premises. These applications tend to be from tenants occupying apartments within a larger building or block directly managed by the Landlord or his agent, or alternatively from a long leaseholder of the whole building who has covenanted to seek consent from the Landlord to alter the premises, possibly by way of extension, change in external appearance or other structural alteration.

Some property or estate owners also manage alterations to freehold properties on their Estates by means of an Estate Management Scheme (EMS). These tend to cover the more major alterations to an existing building, such as changes involving structural alterations or alterations to the exterior.

In all cases mentioned above, the basis of the Landlords or Estate Managers’ ‘control’ is set out in a Lease or, in the case of a freehold building, an Estate Management Scheme. These will be the first and overriding documents to look at when an application to alter premises is first received. However, most leases contain a clause which states ‘consent cannot be unreasonable withheld’, so this also needs to be considered with any application.

Where we are instructed to act for a Landlord who directly manages a property either by their own staff or through managing agents, it is essential to find out whether there are any pre-existing ‘site rules’, as these usually have been given to the tenant as part of the package of information when taking on the Lease, or subsequently through the property management process.

On a directly managed building, there will always be more rigid Landlord requirements to be imposed on the applicant because of the nature of the building and the proximity of other occupiers likely to be affected by the works. If certain controls are not put in place at the outset it may be difficult to instruct on appropriate corrective measures later on.

The question regarding the use of internal common parts or access to the apartment via an external scaffold will always be controversial, but the condition of the common parts and in particular the health, safety and well-being of other residents or users of the common parts must be paramount when assessing this problem. The easiest route for access i.e. use of common parts, may not always be the most appropriate from a management perspective albeit the tenant will usually favour this means of access on cost grounds.

On a long leasehold property which has a ‘not to carry out alterations’ clause, the Lease must be carefully considered, but generally the Landlord is going to be most interested in any changes to the exterior or any structural alterations likely to affect the building as well as change of use proposals of course.

Where an EMS is in place, this scheme document will need to be reviewed to check the specific conditions that it sets out to manage or control, the management of external and structural alterations and change of use which are likely to be the characteristics of the relevant part of the EMS.

Once the proposals have been fully considered, perhaps altered to suit the Landlord’s reasonable requests, and the scheme of works approved, it is essential that the Landlord’s representative is able to check compliance as the work proceeds and so any instructions should always include a specified number of site visits to try and ensure that the proposed works approved by the Landlord are the works actually carried out. On most jobs other than the smallest, it is advisable to carry out regular progress or compliance inspections. This can be done by a Clerk of Works acting on behalf of the Landlord or by the Surveyor.

Assuming that the completed works are the approved works or any variations to the approved works have been agreed, there are a number of usual documents which the Landlord’s representative would normally require before signing the job off. These will include:

1. ‘As-built’ drawings, possibly including services installations.

2. Mechanical and Electrical Services Completion Certificates, Warranties, etc.

3. Building Regulations Certificate.

4. Acoustic test results.

This list is not exhaustive and would be tailored to suit the type of approval described above. The directly managed building is likely to require the most record information because all of this will be relevant to the person managing the building going forward.

The process of approving Landlord’s consent to tenants of commercial buildings is similar, but there will usually be formal procedure guides and local roles controlling how works are to be undertaken in any given building. These measures are necessary to prevent the works adversely affecting the interests of other commercial tenants.

For more information on this subject, please contact Keith Murray or David Betteridge on: 01689 898288 or mb@murraybirrell.co.uk.

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