Once again, the importance of a bespoke licence to alter manual for landlords and leaseholders is detailed here
This is a handsome factory conversion of over 100 apartments and commercial units in Islington, by the Regent’s Canal. We act for the managing agent and their landlord in respect of licence to alter applications.
Having produced a licence to alter manual for them some years ago (which detailed for the landlord and leaseholders the procedures they were required to follow when contemplating refurbishment works in their demise) it was time for an update to make it more comprehensive.
The leases for this building state: “Not to make any alterations or additions to the premises or remove landlord fixtures without previous written consent of the landlord.” In common with many leases, this clause leaves the managing agent, landlord and their retained surveyor (us) with some interpretation to do, hence the usefulness of a licence to alter manual to summarise the relevant lease terms, explain the do’s and don’t’s, and confirm what is acceptable to the landlord and what is not.
Some blocks more than others comprise of apartments that are ripe for transformation and adding value. This factory conversion’s duplexes offer stunning double-height living accommodation, with some of the walls entirely glazed and balconies allowing lovely views across the neighbouring park.
Regular requests for alterations and refurbishment arrive in the managing agent’s inbox, which comprise of anything from redecorations and renewal of bathroom suites, to wholesale layout changes and additions of mezzanines. The plethora of works types and their corresponding level of consent/authorisation meant that an update to the manual was essential.
As block managers are aware, not all works within an apartment would require a full licence to alter. Some works may only justify a formal ‘short form licence’ or even just a letter licence, but no matter the works, contractors pose an increased risk to the fabric of the building and the safety of the residents. A recent fire in the block caused by such a contractor was testament to that.
Whilst a fire, we would hope, is a rare occurrence, much more likely are the overloading of lifts, damage to the common parts through dragging in materials, and escapes of water. To mitigate against such incidents and the resulting finger-pointing and insurance claims, our refreshed manual will set out the requirements for ANY contractors working on site – including proof of their liability insurances, relevant health and safety documentation and industry accreditation. Rules for working within the building will include for protection of floors and walls; specific actions to ensure the building does not become a security/burglary risk; and appropriate communication with the other residents to ensure they are aware of the works before they begin.
So while a licence to alter may not be needed for many refurbishment projects within apartments, buildings like this converted factory that naturally attract buyers wishing to put their own stamp on an already striking space, ought to have extra layers of protection to guard against negligence and property damage. Many leases allow landlords and their managing agents to ‘beef up’ the regulations that a building may impose on its leaseholders – and we would recommend you do just that via such a licence to alter manual.
For assistance in putting together a licence to alter manual for your building or for any LTA enquiries, please get in touch.
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