What is deemed a Non-Structural Alteration?

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    What is deemed a Non-Structural Alteration?

    I have a question about Non-Structural Alterations and would really appreciate some help understanding what that means.
    I live in a long leasehold property with 125 years remaining.
    The lease says:

    "Not to make any external or structural alteration or addition to the property or make any opening in the boundary of the property or cut and maim any structural part of the building"


    "Not to make any internal, non-structural alteration or addition to the Property, or alteration to the plan, design or elevation of the property, without the prior written consent of the landlord, such consent not to be unreasonably withheld or delayed."

    I've tried googling for definitions of what this means but have only come up with definitions from American law.
    From looking at previous posts, my understanding is that it is simply any alteration that is not structural, and that an alteration is a change.
    Does this mean adding shelves, changing a wall light fixture etc? How far does a non-structural alteration extend?

    The leaseholders are in a separate legal dispute with the landlord, so I'm reluctant to ask for written permission unless it's deemed necessary.

    On a personal, selfish note, would you mind casting an eye over the following two examples, to say if under these terms you personally would deem them necessary of permission?

    1 - Wardrobe facade in an encove (Doors fill width of space, and are hinged on a wooden frame, which would be fixed to the walls/ceiling. No built-in elements behind the frame)

    2 - A W:1200mm x L:1200mm x H:2000mm shed on a W:3000mm x L:6096mm side terrace (top floor, not visible from street level)

    Thanks for your time, and sorry for the personal examples, I just thought you would be the right people to ask.

    The structure of a building is essentially the parts which support it and enclose it. It includes the foundations, external and load bearing walls, roof, beams, lintels and floors. Non-structural parts include any of the following whch are non-load-bearing: windows, doors, internal walls and the fixtures and fittings.

    When it comes to non-structural alterations I think it has to be a question of degree. If consent is required for non-structural alterations you need to ask if you want to remove or make openings in non-loadbearing walls, put up a false ceiling, erect partition walls or remove doors. You do not need to ask to do things like putting up shelves, bathroom cabinets or shower screens. If it does not involve rewiring I do not see how a landlord can object to new light fittings so long as you are not putting up a heavy chandelier. Changing the bathroom and kitchen fittings is a bit of a grey area. Many leases require the leaseholder to keep the fixtures in good condition and replace them when necessary. If any fixture is getting tired you do not need to ask for consent to comply with your obligations. Apart from that, it has to be expected that fixtures will need replacing during the course of 125 years.

    As to your two specific questions:

    I would suggest that consent is not required if an item of furniture needs to be fixed to a wall to ensure its stability.

    The shed is covered by the covenant not to make any external addition.


      Great advice and knowledge, thank you very much!


        Quite agree with the above with the proviso that internal walls are frequently structural and load bearing ( even wooden ones!). Don't go taking them out unless you know what you're doing. ..


          This has been super helpful for me too. One further question - what about creating a door in a structural wall? Would that be considered non structural works also?


            Originally posted by Pattyjessie View Post
            This has been super helpful for me too. One further question - what about creating a door in a structural wall? Would that be considered non structural works also?
            That sounds definitely a structural alteration but , assuming it's internal I can't see the freeholder ever knowing. Just make sure you comply with building regs. And put a lintel in !!


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