Leasehold Alterations

Leasehold Alterations

The Council has a duty to consider requests for alterations from leaseholders. They have produced a new set of guidelines to help you through the application process. Please read the guidelines before making your application.

Making an application for a Leasehold Alteration

Landlord’s written consent to alterations must be given by Tower Hamlets Council. If your proposal is accepted you will usually receive a conditional consent letter. This will set out a number of conditions which you must fulfil before formal written consent is provided.  

Please note you must seek this written provisional consent from THH before  you approach the Planning Department or Building Control. Without the formal written consent of THH you will be in breach of your lease and if you carry out unauthorised alterations you may be asked to put the property back to its original condition. The Council may also take legal action against you.

THH manage the process on behalf of the Council and will submit applications to the Council for a decision. 

In addition to Landlord consent you may need a number of other permissions to support your application such as building control, planning or compliance with fire regulations. Again, these should only be approached once you have received written conditional consent from THH. 

You will need to be clear in your application exactly what you are planning to do and who and how you will carry them out. Your contractor may need to be an approved contractor (e.g. for gas appliances) and may need insurance cover.

In order for you to carry out an alteration in your property and after you have received written conditional consent from THH; you may have to: 

 

  • Ensure your  alteration is wholly contained in the part of the land/building under your ownership.
          
  • Provide us full details of the works proposed (including plans, drawings, and measurements where possible) you intend to carry out (before and after). Ensuring that the proposed area is owned and demised to you.
          
  • Provide details of  a reputable contractor with Public Liability Insurance of up to £1 million who will carry out the work to an acceptable standard that meets health and safety requirements.
          
  • Provide a Structural Engineer's report if removing internal walls (whether partition or supporting walls) and to ensure that the application does not cause damage or depreciation to the structure or value of the building.
          

Ensure your service charge account is paid up in full with no monies left owing on the account.   
 

When we receive your request and the fee (see table below), the Alterations Officer will review your application and liaise with you. Depending on the type of alteration, our Surveyor may visit your property. If you need to make any changes to your plans so that they meet our requirements, we will let you know what these are and what you need to do. 

When the Alteration Officer and Surveyor have agreed your alteration in principle, we formally apply to the Council for landlord’s consent. You do not need to be involved in this part of the process as we will do it on your behalf. We will write to you to tell you when the Council has given landlord’s conditional consent. 

Asbestos

Your alteration may involve affecting a part of the building where asbestos is present. For example if you are putting in sound insulation you may disturb either your property or have to (with THH permission) go into the reserved part of the building (that belonging to the Council).

Needless to say after seeking THH consent you must employ a contractor authorised to work and/or remove asbestos.

Fees

The following fees apply for alteration requests:

Type of Approval

Minor Alterations

Major Alterations

Application fee

£250

£250

Letter of Consent*

£250

£300

Licence of alterations *

£250

£300

Deed of Variation

£250

£300

 

Other fees(as applicable):

 

 

Property Services

£500

£500

Legal Services

£750

£750

 

* You cannot be charged for letter of consent and licence of consent.

Additionally, THH will charge 

  • £90 an hour for a      structural assessment or a post inspection
  • £50 an hour for      significant administrative work  

THH will carry out a post inspection before a final consent or licence is issued. Sometimes we may have complete a Deed of Variation to your lease.
  

Guidance notes

Internal work  

The Council will generally agree proposed alterations to the inside of the property subject to a number of important qualifications. 

Changing the layout (reconfiguration)
The Council will only give consideration to this type of proposal if there is no impact on other flats in the building:  

  • It should not cause additional noise or disturbance on account of changes in the habitation or the use of the premises
  • It cannot reduce the possibility of escape from the flat in theevent of a fire nor should it increase the likelihood of the onset or spread of fire and smoke.
  • A bedroom must not be situated above or below a living room or kitchen of another flat
  • Subdividing the property into more than one dwelling unit will generally not be allowed
  • The proposed size  of a bedroom must not fall below the minimum reasonable and  acceptable standard (minimum single bedroom size is 7.5m2 and double 11.5m2) and any alterations must not make the property overcrowded. 

Structural alterations
Structural alterations must not be such that they could affect the stability of the building and; 

  • The creation of a new window or doorway in the outside wall will not be allowed, except for windows or doors in approved extensions
  • Building a new  fireplace or the opening up of one that has been sealed will not normally  be permitted in view of the burden of the additional maintenance for the landlord in relation to the flue and chimney in the building. 

If an alteration is agreed which significantly affects the exterior or the structure of the building, this would be on the condition that the current and future leaseholders accept all liability for any maintenance work relating to this. 

Loft alterations
Unless it is clearly included as part of their property under the terms of their lease, leaseholders have no right to make any alterations to this area. If the loft is included within the demise of the property, permission will still be required. 

Boilers and flues
Any work in relation to installing a new flue or changing an old one must be agreed beforehand by the Council. Any damage caused to the outside of the building will be repaired by the Council at full cost to the resident concerned. 

Landlord consent will not be given for a leaseholder to be disconnected from the communal heating system

Flooring alterations
The Council will not agree requests to fit laminate flooring and requires that a property must be covered with carpet and underlay other than kitchen and bathrooms.

External work 

When considering requests for external works the Council has set the following principles: 

  • Consent will always be withheld if the Council considers that an alteration may contravene health and safety or make the property structurally dangerous or unstable (i.e. such as removing a supporting wall or weakening foundations).
  • The proposed work must not cause or be likely to cause any maintenance or structural problems. It must not encroach onto or affect any land  which is not part of the flat or contravene local bye-laws, tenancy conditions or conservation areas.
  • Permission will not be granted where there is the possibility that other residents may be caused nuisance or inconvenience. Where other residents are required to be consulted, the Council may withhold consent if there are objections.
  • The Council has the right to withhold consent if it is considered that the proposals are not aesthetically in keeping with the building or surrounding area.
  • The applicant must  have the consent of the landlord before starting any works and planning or building control agreement alone is not sufficient. 

When requesting structural alterations, you may be expected to pay for and provide the Council with a full structural survey to validate your application.

Exterior minor work  

  • Exterior brickwork: Any changes to the exterior, such as painting of the brickwork requires landlord  permission but will not normally be allowed 
  • Exterior fixtures and fittings: The attachment of anything outside the   property requires permission from the Council. Examples are security cameras, burglar alarm boxes, external signage and exterior lighting. 

Conservatories and Extensions  

A conservatory or extension will not normally be permitted where the flat is situated in a block of flats and will have a negative impact on the design consistency of the buildings and the maintenance obligations of the landlord. Permission for these applications can usually only be considered where the garden belongs to a maisonette, a house or flat (not on an block or estate) and where it’s for the sole use of the residents who live in it.

Window replacement 

Windows are deemed to be part of the building’s structure and so are the responsibility of the Council to maintain or replace. lies with the Council and there is no obligation to accept any request for a window renewal. The Council retains a full maintenance obligation for the upkeep of windows.

Generally speaking requests to replace windows by leaseholders will be refused as they form part of the building’s structure and therefore are not within the lessee’s demise.

In exceptional circumstances where consent is provided, the leaseholder will still have to contribute their share of any future window repairs or replacement.


Communal areas and preventing light or air reaching other residents 
 

Any proposals that might affect access to or the use of a communal area including corridors, stairs, entrances, basement areas, gardens and lofts will not be permitted. The Council also will not generally allow any development that will significantly reduce the light and air for other residents.

Digital TV aerials and satellite dishes  

Consent for satellite dishes will not normally be granted and can only be considered if there is no TV communal reception system for the building.

Security grilles and fire safety doors 

Grilles over windows and security doors constitute a possible hazard in the event of fire and so can only be permitted where it is evidenced that they conform to the most recent London Fire Brigade advice. Consent for a replacement fire door will only be given if it is proposed to replace this with a door of a similar specification. 

Security gates across communal walkways are not permitted. 

Retrospective permission  

Where alterations have been undertaken without the landlord’s written consent you will have to submit a retrospective application at a cost of between £350 and £2000. In certain circumstances, such as conversions, the price may exceed £2000.

The Council will make every effort to ensure that consent is not unreasonably withheld but are highly unlikely to agree retrospective permission for large scale works such as extensions or conservatories. 

Where retrospective consent cannot be granted, you will be required to reinstate the property to its former condition.