26 March 2021

Residential leaseholders: the complexities of undertaking alterations

Partners Lucy Barber and Charles Miéville from our Residential Property team join More Than Law podcast host, Miri Stickland, to discuss the impact of recent case law on residential leaseholders carrying out alterations to their premises and provide practical advice on the other issues leaseholders need to be mindful of before commencing works.

“It is crucial for owners and buyers to understand where the demise of the premises extends to and what they do and don’t own before they start undertaking works. Structural parts will usually be carved out of the demise, so although you may think you are acquiring the internal envelope of your flat, there will be structural parts which are not demised to you, meaning the landlord can refuse consent to works being carried out, for example, taking down or moving an internal structural wall.”

“The process of getting a licence for alterations needs to take place before your contractors are on site, and this is often left too late by leaseholders. It is quite common that some or all of the works will need landlord’s consent and they will want to take legal advice and instruct their surveyors to ensure that the structural integrity of the building is not going to be damaged, so it can take some time.”

“The Duval decision has added another layer of complexity to a tenant carrying out alterations where their lease has an absolute prohibition against structural works and the landlord is obliged under other leases of the building to mutually enforce tenants’ obligations. Landlords are left in a somewhat precarious position and we have been advising on this, both in relation to the drafting of new leases and also the implications of granting consent to works under existing leases. In an active market, it is important that we find solutions in order to move forwards.”

In this episode we were joined by:

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