Solicitors for Disputes Over Alterations & Improvements to Commercial Property
Disputes over alterations can be an area of contention stemming from the misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the terms of a lease, either on the part of the landlord or the tenant. These disputes can often escalate, becoming disruptive, stressful, and expensive to resolve.
Whether you are a landlord experiencing issues with a tenant who has carried out alterations without permission, breaching the terms of your agreement, or you are a tenant whose landlord is disputing the legality of alterations that you have made; Lupton Fawcett can help. We have extensive experience of this area of law and we can help you to resolve your dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible.
For expert legal advice on any type of Commercial Property Dispute contact Lupton Fawcett today.
How can Lupton Fawcett help?
When dealing with alteration disputes, it is vital that both landlords and tenants protect their interests by making any agreements properly and legally. We can offer you expert, specialised advice prior to any alterations taking place, with the aim of preventing any future disputes. Where a dispute has already arisen, we can act on your behalf, offering practical solutions and keeping your business needs at the forefront of everything that we do.
Why do alteration disputes arise?
When a tenant takes on a commercial property, the terms of the agreement should be extremely clear so that both parties understand what is and is not permitted. Often, a tenant may want to make changes to a property to accommodate their business needs, and ideally this should be discussed and agreed when the lease is initially drawn up.
A tenant may wish to modernise or to make alterations to a property, which may have implications for the landlord. They may be unwilling to have their property altered, potentially leaving them with a property that may be more difficult to re-let as a result, or costly to undo. Both parties need to be clear about their intentions and to communicate them effectively from the outset.
The role of the lease in alteration disputes
The lease should state whether or not alterations are permitted, and it should be the first place that a tenant looks when considering making any changes. If the subject of alterations is omitted from a lease, then the tenant may be able to make any changes they wish, although this is rare, and it is strongly recommended that the tenant seeks to clarify this ahead of making changes.
It is usually the case that a commercial lease will include some restrictions on alterations. It is unusual that a tenant will be permitted to make any structural alterations, but non-structural changes are often permitted with prior consent. If a tenant applies for permission to make alterations, a landlord has a duty to respond in a prompt and reasonable manner.
Some leases completely prohibit any kind of alteration. Where this is the case a landlord must be extremely cautious if they consent to a request to make an alteration, as this may leave them in breach of covenant, which can be costly to resolve.
Considerations for commercial landlords
As a commercial landlord, if a tenant requests permission to make alterations to your property, there a several factors to consider:
- Do the proposed changes need further consent, such as planning permission?
- Is the tenant aware of any other applicable laws, such as adherence to Building Regulations, or fire safety legislation?
- Will the proposed changes affect the building’s insurance?
- Will the changes affect rent review provisions? Will the alterations made by the tenant lead to them paying a higher rent, based on the improvement of the property that they have brought about with their alterations?
A Licence for Alterations
A request to make alterations comes with many considerations for both parties and is rarely a straightforward issue. Bearing this in mind, it is wise for both parties to make sure that any changes are reflected in the lease so that they both have their interests legally protected. This can be done either by drawing up a new lease, or by renewing the existing lease with the details of the alterations included. Any alterations carried out, or consent given by the landlord should be recorded in a Licence for Alterations.
A Licence for Alterations is important to a tenant to make sure that they comply with the terms of their lease and do not inadvertently cause a breach that could lead to enforcement procedures. It is advisable to ensure that this is in place before any alterations are carried out, as a retrospective application can be problematic for the tenant.
For a landlord, a Licence for Alterations offers any protection they might need to ensure that the property is returned to its previous state, if that is what they wish. A lease will often include a reinstatement clause, obligating the tenant to remove any fittings installed during their occupation, but it is important that the landlord has a full understanding of any work that has been carried out.
We provide a personalised service, with sector specialists and extensive resources to ensure we are giving you the best solutions to your problems.
Our Commercial Property Litigation Solicitors act regularly for clients across the United Kingdom including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, York and Nottingham. We can support your needs wherever you live in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.
For a no obligation initial consultation please either call the office or leave your details using the contact form at the top of this page. We’ll be happy to help.