As more and more of us are heading back into the office / other working environment many businesses will be considering how they currently utilise their space and how they anticipate that changing in the future both for their employees and anybody visiting the property.

In considering your current layout, the decision may be made to make alterations to the property to better suit your future requirements.

If you decide to go ahead with altering the property, you need to assess whether consent is required under your lease. There is no one size fits all position on whether consent will be required, but some key points to think about are set out below.

  • Do the proposed alterations fall completely within the let property or do you need to access other areas / common parts, for example, roof space for an air conditioning unit?
  • Are the proposed alterations structural in nature or not?

Depending upon the terms of your lease (and any head lease if applicable), it may (a) prohibit some or all alterations for example, structural alterations or connecting into service media or it may (b) require you to obtain consent to alterations and may oblige the landlord not to unreasonably withhold and / or delay that consent or it may (c) permit you to make alterations without obtaining consent, for example, for non-structural alterations which could include putting up / removing demountable partitioning.

If a lease prohibits alterations of any kind, this does not mean that a landlord will absolutely refuse to permit the alterations, but it will mean that it is completely within the landlord's discretion whether to grant or refuse consent to a proposal.

Before applying for consent, you should check the lease terms and any regulatory framework to ensure that your application is submitted correctly i.e. to the correct person / entity (and consider sending to any instructed agents and solicitors acting for the landlord at the same time) and includes all the information prescribed in the lease. A well-prepared detailed application including plans, details of materials to be used and any supporting information the landlord is likely to require will make the decision-making process run more smoothly. Although a tenant is unlikely to be involved in a direct application to any superior landlords, it should be taken into consideration that your landlord may need to liaise with superior landlords and or their funder prior to granting consent.

Where the lease requires you to pay the landlord's costs in connection with considering the application, you should consider dealing with this point up front and look to agree the costs to be paid and how that sum is to be paid, for example by a payment on account or putting your solicitor in funds to enable them to provide an undertaking to cover the costs.

Read part two here where we consider with our litigation colleagues what happens when the landlord requests further information / refuses consent.

If you are considering alterations or have queries regarding any other matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Real Estate team or your usual Brodies' contact.


Leonie Hall

Legal Director

Breda Deeley

Senior Associate