A typical lease contains restrictions on what a leaseholder can do with their property, including making changes or alterations. The restrictions are not only for the benefit of estate residents and for estate conformity, but also to make sure that any alterations do not adversely affect the structure of the house, insurability of the building or its neighbours.
Normally, the landlord needs to give prior written approval, or consent, for alterations to the property. Flats may need this for any alterations and houses may need this for exterior alterations (including extensions) and alterations to the internal structure. Whether consent is required depends on the alterations you wish to make and the terms of your lease, so each application is looked at individually.
Depending on the lease terms, most alterations to a property (including signage) will need the landlord’s prior written approval (a licence for alterations).
Some alterations are entirely prohibited (in which case the landlord has no obligation to grant consent); others may be permitted subject to the landlord’s consent; in some cases consent cannot be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
HomeGround's Leasehold Management Team (within the legal department) deals with these requests for alterations on behalf of the landlord, on a day-to-day basis.
You can get in touch with the team through the online enquiry form or by post at HomeGround Management Ltd, PO Box 6433, London W1A 2UZ.
For speed, we highly recommend that you use the enquiry form rather than apply by post. Alteration requests cannot be accepted over the phone as we need them in writing.
A licence to alter is written consent from the landlord for you to carry out alterations to your flat. It can be either a letter (a Letter Licence) or a formal Licence Deed (see FAQ). Both are legal documents that record what is being agreed and any conditions attached to the consent. Any drawings, plans and supporting documents that have been reviewed will be attached to the document.
It is important to get a Licence to Alter if your lease requires it because:
If the landlord agrees in principle to the alterations then, usually, they need to instruct their solicitors to prepare a Licence for Alterations. This is a legally binding document and will need to be executed by all parties as a deed.
For some minor works (e.g. signage), HomeGround can issue a letter licence. This is a short, but legally binding, document that sets out the terms of the consent.
Each request for alterations is treated on a case-by-case basis and HomeGround and the landlord will decide which form of licence is the most appropriate for your alterations.
Our online request for alterations form is easy and convenient to use. You can upload supporting documents, provide details about the proposed alterations and even pay the alterations fee. To access the online form you need to have a personal account on the HomeGround Portal.
We charge a non-refundable, initial assessment fee of £110 for flats or £50 for houses to review your request for alterations form. This fee must be paid in full during the application process.
We charge a non-refundable, initial assessment fee of £200 to review your commercial alterations request form and supporting documents. As part of the review process, we send the application and all supporting documents to our client’s surveyors for evaluation and they charge £650 to produce the required Due Diligence Report.
Both fees (£850 in total) must be paid in full at the time of application. If it becomes apparent that a letter licence is appropriate, we will refund you the £650 Due Diligence Report fee.
This initial assessment is vital to determine: whether the landlord can grant consent; what conditions need to be attached; and whether a letter licence or a licence deed is needed.
As part of the review, we look at the details of the proposed works (including any plans and drawings), the terms of your lease, the title to your property and the title to the landlord’s property (including any alterations terms in a headlease, if one exists).
To register for a personal account you need your alphanumeric security key and your 12-digit customer reference number. You can find these on your HomeGround invoice or your welcome letter and you can register here.
If you have already registered on our portal and need help with your password, please click here.
Although we recommend that you use the forms on the online portal, you can get in touch with the leasehold management team through this contact form or by post at:
HomeGround Management Ltd
PO Box 6433
London W1A 2UZ
We can then send you the form for alterations by email or post.
Once we have reviewed your request for alterations form, we will contact you to confirm whether:
HomeGround will only be able to review your application if you have supplied all the necessary information at the start of the process. After review, we will contact you to confirm whether:
This is usually for minor alterations (the table below shows examples) and includes all the conditions you must meet.
A Letter Licence is produced by HomeGround on behalf of the landlord and you need to sign and return it to HomeGround before you can begin any alterations.
This is required for more complex works, for major works or where a variation might be required to the terms of the lease or if other parties are involved, such as a superior landlord or where the landlord is not the freeholder (see FAQ Will I need to get consent from anybody else?).
A Licence Deed is drafted by the landlord’s solicitors and it will need to be executed as a legal deed by you and the other parties.
The landlord will also instruct a surveyor to review your proposal and to prepare a report that confirms the intended works will:
We will let you know if the surveyor needs to visit your property to discuss the proposed alterations with you and/or your representatives. They surveyor's recommendations will be in incorporated in the Licence Deed.
HomeGround do not act as surveyors and are not qualified to advise landlords on plans and drawings for proposed works. It is essential that these are professionally reviewed to ensure the safety of the building and those who live in it.
Each request for alterations is treated on a case-by-case basis and HomeGround and the landlord will decide which licence is most appropriate for your application.
|Letter Licence||Licence Deed|
|Replacing existing windows or doors||Conservatories and orangeries|
|Replacing a boiler and related flue||Converting a garage into living space (such as a bedroom or living room)|
|Erecting external walls, fences, gates and railings||Extensions|
|Replacing or maintaining driveways||Changing the internal layout of the flat where structural walls are moved/removed|
|Wet rooms||Extending into the loft space|
|Lighting and minor electrical works||Installing additional floors, such as mezzanine levels, and creating new staircases (e.g. within multi-level apartments)|
|Flooring (e.g. installing wooden or laminate flooring)||Creating new window or door openings or converting an external window to a door|
The landlord will appoint a surveyor to review the proposed alterations in the majority of circumstances. Only where the intended works are very minor or non-structural, might they (and at their sole discretion) waive the right to obtain a Due Diligence Report, in which case the fee paid for the report during the form submission will be refunded.
Any recommendations made by the surveyor will be incorporated in the Licence for Alterations.
If the surveyors need to carry out a site visit or ongoing monitoring, any reasonable costs will be payable by you, in addition to the Due Diligence Report fee. We will obtain a further quote for you from the surveyors.
This depends on the terms of your lease and the landlord’s interest in the property. For example, a management company may also need to give consent.
This depends on the terms of your lease, any estate regulations, planning or schemes of management in place for your estate, and on the landlord’s interest in the property. For example, a management company may also need to give consent.
In most circumstances, landlords own the freehold interest but sometimes they own a superior leasehold interest. In this case we also need to review the terms of the superior lease to see if it can grant you consent without breaching its own lease terms.
If consent from a management company or a superior landlord is required, you will also need to comply with their requirements for obtaining consent and you will be responsible for their associated costs, which could include legal and survey fees.
Depending on the type of alteration you wish to carry out, you may also need to get building control approval and/or planning permission and, in some cases, listed building consent.
Neither HomeGround nor the landlord are qualified to advise you on this and you will need to seek specific advice either from the local authority or your architect/builder/surveyor.
It may be necessary to obtain consent from a third party, other than the landlord.
For example: if the landlord owns a leasehold interest in the property they may need to get consent from the superior landlord; a management company may need to give consent; and/or where there is a guarantor in your lease.
In these circumstances you will be responsible for meeting any third party costs, in addition to paying the landlord’s reasonable costs.
A condition of the Licence for Alterations is that you have acquired, and covered all the costs of, all relevant planning permission, building control approval, CDM Regulations compliance, insurer’s consent and any other consent required under statute.
Neither HomeGround nor the landlord are qualified to advise you on this and you will need to seek independent professional advice.
The cost depends on a number of factors, including:
The table below shows you an estimate of the likely costs.
Please note that these only relate to costs for HomeGround, the landlord and their appointed surveyors and solicitors. If the application is complex or if a surveyor’s site visit or ongoing monitoring is required, HomeGround and the landlord reserve their right to provide a bespoke fee quote.
This table does not include a landlord premium, if applicable; you will need to pay any third-party costs separately.
|Form of Licence||Administration Fee||Surveyor’s Costs||Solicitor’s Costs||Total|
|Letter Licence||Initial assessment fee:
£50 for houses
£110 for flats
£300 administration fee
|Licence Deed||Initial assessment fee:
£50 for houses
£110 for flats
£360 administration fee
|£600 (inc. VAT)||£480 (inc. VAT)||
The landlord is entitled to recover reasonable legal and other costs in connection with the application for and grant of a Licence for Alterations, which include but are not limited to third party professional fees, such as surveyors’ fees and/or HomeGround’s fees.
The initial assessment and Due Diligence Report fees are payable when you submit the commercial alterations request form. If a Letter Licence is then granted, the Due Diligence Report fee will be refunded.
Additional costs for surveyors’ site inspections/ongoing monitoring, legal and/or HomeGround fees (if applicable) will vary.
This table summarises the estimated overall fees payable in each case. You will be advised of any further costs or additional fees that may be required:
|Form of Licence||HomeGround Administration Fee||Surveyor’s Costs||Solicitor’s Costs||Total|
|Letter Licence||£200 initial assessment fee
£300 administration fee
|Licence Deed||£200 initial assessment fee
£600 administration fee
|£650 (plus VAT) Due Diligence Report fee||From £850 (plus VAT)||£2,600|
For the majority of applications for consent to alterations, a premium payment to the landlord will not be required.
If the alterations that you wish to carry out are outside of the demise of your property (for example, alterations involving a structural wall or that extend into loft space or areas that belong to the landlord), these are outside the scope of your lease and therefore consent may be granted at the landlord’s discretion.
In such cases, the landlord may request an additional payment, or premium, as a condition of consent, to reflect the additional rights and value being granted to you over and above the terms of your lease.
If the alterations that you wish to carry out are outside of the demise of your property or will interfere with the landlord’s reserved structures (for example, mounting air-conditioning condensers on an external structural wall, creating mezzanine levels or creating openings in structural walls), these will be outside of the scope of your lease and consent is at the landlord’s discretion.
In such cases, the landlord may request a premium as a condition of consent, to reflect the additional rights and value being granted to you over and above the terms of your lease.