Whilst challenges lie ahead for the industry, this should provide a much-needed boost to our economy, which flourishes with clear thinking and political stability. This economic boost could result in a ‘green light’ for projects that had previously been put on hold. These projects may be, amongst others, leaseholder alterations, communal area refurbishment works or submitting a planning application for a modification to the property. Here we will provide a brief reminder on points to consider when embarking on or having involvement in these projects:

Leaseholder alterations

There is often confusion around which works do and do not require a formal licence and which professional services are required. At Hamilton Darcey LLP, we help landlords and managing agents prepare for alterations with structured guidance that is specific to each property.

This guidance includes a list of works that do not require a formal licence, for example decoration, re-carpeting or replacing a bathroom suite like-for-like without pipework alterations. The list of works which do require a formal Licence include any structural works, replacing a carpet with a hard floor or non like-for-like services alterations.

The guidance also includes works which are unlikely to be permitted for example significant changes to the external façade of the property or alterations to communal parts of the property.

Without professional advice in this area, uncontrolled leaseholder works can cause issues. For instance, we have seen countless examples of walls being knocked down without consulting a structural engineer, which can result in significant damage to other flats or the building as a whole.

Communal Area Refurbishment

Refurbishment of communal areas of a building, whether it is decoration work, repairs or upgrade works, will affect all leaseholders. In order for these projects to run as smoothly as possible, it is vital that leaseholders are advised in good time when the works are due to start, exactly what the nature of the works are and how they will personally be affected.

Leaseholders should not feel that they have been left in the dark, as they are integral to completing a successful project. The best way to ensure this is to effectively programme the works, allowing sufficient time pre and post contract to consult and advise leaseholders.

Planning Applications

The first point to note is that planning permission lasts for 3 years, which is why it is important to plan this around the anticipated start date for the project.

Once an application has been submitted to the Local Authority it is generally decided within eight weeks, unless unusually large or complex, in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks.

It is always best to check if the property is Listed or in a conservation area. Listed Buildings require consent to alter or extend them in a manner which would affect their character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. Minor works that would not normally need planning permission outside a conservation area may need planning permission when in a conservation area.