Licence to Alter Nightmare!

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    Licence to Alter Nightmare!

    Hi Everyone, I'm really hoping there's someone able to help me! I would massively appreciate any advice!

    I sent an e-mail on 19th January for a license to alter (I am a leaseholder of a flat in East Sussex). The freeholder (a company) has not responded at all despite me chasing every week, sometimes multiple times. It has now been 12.5 weeks and still nothing.

    To note: I am e-mailing my building management company who e-mail the freeholder. I have had responses from building management who just say they are continuing to chase.

    I am also slightly concerned about the wording in my lease (which is from 1977) as it states 'The Lessee shall not make any alternations or additions in or to the premises' so nothing mentioned about 'without consent'.

    The works: I'd like to knock down some non bear loading walls, move the kitchen to another room, and add French doors leading out to the courtyard (the doors would be exactly the same width as the current window). These would all be done but a professional build and design company, and I had an architect draw up plans for me which were passed onto the freeholder. The works would only take 1-week.

    I've thought about taking them to a small claims court but it looks really complicated and quite expensive, and it feels so excessive going down this route.

    Does anyone have any advice at all? If I'm being unreasonable and not giving them enough time, then please let me know that as well! This is the first flat I've owned and knew I would have to get approval, but I thought there may be a little back and forth trying to work out something that works for everyone - not just being totally ignored by them.

    Thanks so so much! Emily

    Hi Emily,

    I have one of my BTL's which sounds exactly like you live in, oddly enough i am just about to do half of what you mention, take out one of the windows and then disc down the brickwork to create a hole big enough for a set of patio doors to the rear ...... i asked permission and within a few days got the go ahead, as you say the width is the same as the window, but in my case there is precedence. I am shocked they have not even acknowledged your correspondence, what has the management company said about why they have not bothered ?? Are any other properties changed in the way you wish too ?
    Last edited by Hudson01; 15-04-2021, 21:41 PM. Reason: spelling


      If the lease contains an absolute prohibition against making alterations the landlord does not have to grant consent and is under no obligation to respond to your request.

      Please quote the alterations clause in your lease in full so that we can comment on whether the prohibition is in fact absolute, as appears may be the case.


        Thanks very much for your replies!

        It does feel upsetting and unreasonable they have not said anything at all as this is really impacting my personal life, I'm really glad your freeholder gave you the go-ahead though.

        The current layout of my flat is so so bad - the courtyard is off the back bedroom, both bedrooms are very small, the kitchen is badly designed due to the shape, and there is enough storage in the flat for a 10-bed house (5 big walk-in cupboards which is totally unnecessary and a huge waste of space)! Furthermore, the bedrooms are freezing cold because the windows and door are single-glazed and not sealed properly (there is literally a breeze) so I often just end up sleeping on my sofa when it's cold as I can't bear it.

        That is the entire alteration clause in my lease - very short and I don't quite understand the wording as to what is and is not prohibited: '9. The Lessee shall not make any alternations or additions in or to the premises'.

        Before moving in, I made sure to do some research and thought I'd be okay as covered by the landlord's and tenant's act, but maybe I am mistaken (I hope not!):

        Thanks again for your help.


          That clause could cover almost anything...... a change from a bath to a shower cubicle ? They could ban situation is somewhat easier as the freehold company is effectively owned by the residents (i am a shareholder along with many others), so our service charges are low and within reason we all enhance our properties for our own use. I would never have purchased it if it had not been this way, faceless freeholders do nothing for me and tend to charge all manner of money for not a great deal of service, our blocks are in great condition and due to us all having '' ownership '' we are happier for it. All the best.


            The Lessee shall not make any alternations or additions in or to the premises'.

            If, as seems to be the case, the above is not qualified in any way it is very stark and clear. It has though to be subject to the de minimis rule so that you can do things like put up shelves or change a showerhead. You will also be able to replace fittings which need replacing. However, taking down partition walls definitely comes within the prohibition.

            You are to be commended for doing research before buying, but unfortunately you misunderstood exactly what section 19(2) provides as it does not cover absolute prohibitions against making improvements.

            If he did not do so when you bought, your conveyancer ought to have drawn to your attention that the clause is an absolute prohibition and that the landlord could refuse to consent to any changes you wanted to make.


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