Apr 26, 2024

Licence to Alter

Carrying out works to your property can be an exciting endeavour filled with dreams of added space and functionality...

Carrying out works to your property can be an exciting endeavour filled with dreams of added space and functionality. However, amidst the enthusiasm, it's crucial to navigate the intricate web of regulations and permissions required to turn your vision into reality. 

While the roles of architects, engineers, contractors, and party wall surveyors are widely recognized, there's one critical aspect often overlooked by laypersons: the need for a License to Alter.

What is a Licence to Alter?

A License to Alter is essentially a formal request for the freeholder's consent to carry out works on the property. Its scope and requirements are dictated by the contents of the lease agreement, outlining what alterations the freeholder can reasonably withhold consent for. This consent, or lack thereof, can significantly impact the feasibility and cost of the proposed works.

Professional Guidance

Understanding the intricacies of the alteration clause in the lease requires expert interpretation, typically provided by a solicitor well-versed in property law. While a Chartered Surveyor can offer general guidance, a solicitor can provide specific advice tailored to the nuances of the lease agreement. This includes delineating the freeholder's rights regarding alterations and assessing the potential for imposing a premium for consented works.


Once the need for a License to Alter is established, the solicitor begins drafting the licence, outlining the permitted works and the conditions under which they should be executed. Meanwhile, the Chartered Surveyor evaluates the proposed alterations' impact on the property's external and common areas, as well as neighbouring leasehold properties. This thorough assessment ensures compliance with lease provisions and minimizes disruption to other residents.

Collaborative Efforts

While larger commercial developments often involve separate legal and surveyor teams for the freeholder and leaseholder, residential alterations typically rely on professionals appointed by the freeholder to streamline costs. The surveyor conducts inspections to assess potential damage risks and devises strategies to mitigate inconvenience to residents. Any unacceptable elements are communicated to the leaseholder, necessitating design modifications.

Documentation and Compliance

Structural calculations, proof of insurance, and security deposits may be required as additional documentation to support the license application. The finalised licence delineates the approved works, their execution guidelines, and site management protocols. While the bureaucratic process may seem daunting, adhering to these requirements is crucial to avoiding complications and legal disputes down the line.


While obtaining a License to Alter may seem like a bureaucratic hurdle, its importance becomes evident when unforeseen challenges arise during the construction phase. Compliance with lease provisions and regulatory requirements not only safeguards the interests of all parties involved but also ensures a smoother and more successful building project.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're a leaseholder proposing alterations, a freeholder receiving a request for consent, or a share of freeholder navigating both perspectives, seeking professional guidance is paramount. By enlisting the expertise of solicitors and Chartered Surveyors experienced in property law, you can navigate the complexities of Licenses to Alter with confidence, ensuring a seamless transition from vision to reality. 

If you find yourself in need of assistance or clarification on any aspect of the process, our team is here to provide expert guidance and support.