Licences & Permissions

introduction

Leaseholders in the UK may be required to obtain licences or permissions from their Freeholder before they can begin certain activities in the property. It is important to be aware of what licences or permissions may be required before carrying out any works or activities in the property. The is due to the fact that contravening the terms of a lease will be deemed a "breach of lease" and can carry certain consequences that may potentially be severe depending on the type of contravention.

This article will explain the fundamentals of UK leasehold licences and permissions, the different types of licences and permissions, and the standard procedures for obtaining them.

 

Types of Licences and Permissions

The type of licence or permission that is required will depend on the activity that the leaseholder wishes to carry out. Some of the most common types of licences and permissions are listed below:

  • Licence to Alter
    • A licence to alter is required if a leaseholder wishes to make any changes to the structure or appearance of the property. This includes any internal or external changes, such as installing a new kitchen, or extending the property. What kind of changes you can make and what will require permission will depend on the wording of your lease. If unsure, it is best practice to consult a Solicitor before carrying out changes that may contravene the terms of your lease.
  • Licence to Assign
    • There are some leases that require a permission from the Landlord before the Leaseholder can transfer the ownership of the property. The effectively allows the Landlord to apply some vetting process to the new owner. This is most common in commercial leases, but can be seen in some residential leases as well.
  • Pet Licence
    • Many leaseholders need to obtain a pet licence if they wish to keep a pet in the property. This is often the case in blocks of flats. The licence will usually specify the types and number of pets that can be kept in the property.
Standard Procedures for Obtaining a Licence or Permission

Once you have established the type of licence or permission that you need, it is important to follow the standard procedures for obtaining it. The first step is to contact the Freeholder and provide them with full details of the activity that you wish to carry out. It is important to be clear and concise in your request.

The Freeholder will then assess your request and either grant or refuse to grant the licence or permission. If the request is approved, the Freeholder will provide a document outlining the terms and conditions of the licence.

What if i don't get a licence or permission

If the leaseholder carries out those activities without first obtaining a Licence there can be consequences.

Legally speaking any contravention of the lease is deemed to be a "breach of lease" that can give rise to the Landlord taking legal action against the leaseholder.   In many leases there exists a "cost indemnity clause" that effectively makes the leaseholder liable for any legal costs that the Landlord has to incur in order to remedy that breach.

This is seen relatively often in situations of unauthorised alterations.

This is whereby a leaseholder may have made some improvements to their flat; if they have changed the internal layout. Say by building a wall to create a new room within the property, this will likely be deemed an alteration of which permission should have been sought in advance.

Many leasehlolders may only realise their mistake once  they come to sell their property. A valuation survey would usually be comissioned, and the valuations findings could well reveal to the buyer that there has indeed been a structural alteration to the property.

The buyer would then ask to see the licence.  In such a case, the leaseholder must then attempt to seek a "retrospective licence to alter" from their Landlord.  There is no certainty on the grant of such a licence as the Landlord is to be entitled to review the specification of the works.

A landlord cannot "reasonably withhold" their consent, but this still means that if there is a glaring reason why the permission should not be granted, then its possible those changes will have to be undone.

Costs

The cost of a licence or permission will vary depending on the type of licence, the activity that you wish to carry out, and the Freeholder. It is important to check what the fees are before you submit your request, as there may be additional charges for certain activities.

Conclusion

Leaseholders in the UK may need to obtain licences or permissions from their Freeholder in order to carry out certain activities in the property. This article has outlined the fundamentals of UK leasehold licences and permissions, the different types of licences and permissions, and the standard procedures for obtaining them. It is important to be aware of the costs and the type of licence or permission that is required before carrying out any works or activities in the property.  Contact us for more information.

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