Leases will generally contain provisions regulating alterations by the tenant.
- If a lease does not say anything about alterations (which would usually be an error) the tenant can carry out alterations unless they damage the property.
- It is more likely that a lease will contain detailed provisions relating to what a tenant cannot do.
- Leases often entirely prohibit structural alterations because of fears that the structure may be damaged. This may however cause problems where the tenant intends to carry out works that have a structural impact, for example insertion of new doorways.
- Leases will also often permit internal, non-structural alterations with the landlord’s consent, on the basis that the landlord will not unreasonably withhold consent.
- The landlord’s consent is usually given by means of a formal deed, which may include provisions for the tenant to reinstate the premises to their former condition at the end of the lease.
- Tenants may be able to make use of section 3 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 if the landlord will not agree to improvements to the property, and the lease does not permit the tenant to object to that refusal on the basis that it is unreasonable. It is a complex procedure, therefore it is better for the tenant to reach a negotiated position.
- However, the best thing to do is to ensure that when a lease is negotiated it will permit any alterations that may be necessary during the lease term. The need for landlord’s consent would be usual but it should be stated that consent must not be unreasonably withheld.