Leasehold alterations guidance

Why you need consent 

Under the terms of your lease, the council is responsible for maintaining all communal and structural parts of the building and doors, except leaseholder entrance doors to the property.

Your lease says that you must obtain written permission from us before making any changes to the layout/structure to your home including fitting new doors and windows, because:

  • We may demand that you reinstate the property to its original condition, at your cost, if the alterations do not comply with its standards.
  • We have the right to carry out works to reverse the changes, if alterations are made without landlord’s consent, at your cost.
  • You may experience difficulties when you want to sell your property. The new buyers may request proof that the council has consented to all alterations in accordance with the terms of the lease/transfer agreement.
  • Applying for retrospective consent does not guarantee that the council will consent to the works already carried out. These costs are non-refundable, and the council may then demand you reinstate the property to its original condition, at your own cost.

Alterations/work that requires consent

  • Internal improvements to part of your home that includes changes to the structure,
  • Changes to layout, or
  • Works that affect communal services, such as communal drainage

We advise you to first check with the Homeowner Advisor Team -HMHomeownership@lambeth.gov.uk

If you’re doing anything to the structure of the building, you will need to first obtain the council’s permission. The most common requests we receive are for:

  • Window renewals / replacements
  • Removal of non-load bearing/partition walls
  • Boiler replacement where flues are affected
  • Conversion of loft/basement space (you must already own/buy the loft or basement space as part of your lease.)
  • Extensions into the garden
  • Wooden/laminate/luxury vinyl tiles flooring

Works not allowed

  • Disconnecting from the Communal District Heating System (DHS).  There are exceptional circumstances.
  • Works to communal areas
  • Division of communal gardens

The terms of your lease, states that leaseholders are responsible for the front door and are allowed to replace them only with a consent notice.

The doors must be fire regulated. Leaseholders are advised to seek advice from the Homeowner Advisor Team in the first instance.

Potential charges for alterations or improvements

The council doesn’t charge premiums for an alteration or improvement, but we can seek to recover a sum for:

  • Damage to, or the reduction in, the value of the premises or any neighbouring premises belonging to the council.
  • Legal or other costs properly incurred in respect of granting a licence or consent.
  • In the case of an improvement which does not increase the letting value of the premises, we can require you to reinstate the premises to its original state.

What we consider as damage to the premises depends on whether the proposed alterations are only to the homeowners premises, or involves altering, or cutting into a part of the building that belongs to the council (i.e. an external wall).

Seek advice from the Homeowner Advisor Team in the first instance.

Checking for asbestos

If your home was built before 2000, it may contain asbestos. Make sure that asbestos checks are done if you’re carrying out any intrusive work on your property.

Homeowners are responsible for the removal of any asbestos contained within their home or where they are concerned that asbestos may be present.

Contact a specialist licensed laboratory contractor if you suspect that asbestos is present in the premises/property. They will test suspect materials to confirm whether they contain asbestos. Visit www.ukas.com for up-to-date contact details of United Kingdom Accreditation Society (UKAS) accredited testers. 

You’re responsible for the safe removal and consignment of asbestos materials to a licensed waste tip by your removal contractor. Please get a copy of the waste consignment note from your removal contractor as proof of safe disposal of hazardous waste for your own records.

Failure of safe disposal of hazardous waste will incur a minimum fine of £5,000. Find a licensed removal contractor from the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) - https://www.arca.org.uk/.

Retrospective consent

If you’ve carried out improvements/alterations without permission from us, you must make an online application with the following:

  • A description of the work, including drawings showing both the previous (if known) and current design
  • Copies of the relevant statutory consents where applicable (e.g., planning or conservation area consents) including copies of Building Regulations approval
  • Pay the application fee, currently £400.00

A Building Surveyor may need to inspect the property before a decision on consent can be made.

If we don’t give consent for the changes then you’ll be asked to return the property to its original position. If the council carries out works to reverse the changes, you will be recharged.

Application review

After we receive the application fee, Homeownership Services will check relevant details and forward the application to one of our surveyors. Our surveyor will review the information and advise the Homeowner Advisor Team of their decision.

It takes between15 working days, and up to 4 weeks to get a decision on your application. The length of time depends on the number of applications we’re dealing with at any one time. All applications are reviewed in the order they are received.

A surveyor may also carry out an inspection at this stage (not just where conditional consent is given)

Conditional consent

Conditional consent is granted prior to works being carried out if the leaseholder meets the conditions set by the surveyor. We may send a Building Surveyor to your property to inspect before giving conditional consent.

We’ll issue a ‘Conditional Consent Notice’ letter if your application is approved. This letter will contain conditions that must be complied with for the work to go ahead, like:

  • We may ask you to prove that you’re using contractors with certain qualifications, accreditation and/or indemnity insurance levels.
  • We may specify the type and quality of materials that you must use.
  • We may state that you must obtain other planning or building consents.

Also, if we give you conditional consent, a Building Surveyor may need to inspect the property after the work is complete, to ensure all the conditions were met.

The structure remains the property of the council, so we’ll continue to maintain it.

Transferring conditional consent

Unless the conditional consent states that it is personal to you, or marked as time limited, which is usually the case, you can pass it on to your new buyer.

If a conditional consent is transferred to your new buyer, the new owner can only carry out works that the original consent allowed you to do. Any deviation could render the consent void.

Alteration’s timescale

You’ll usually be given 12 months to complete the work and notify us. You can apply for an extension for another 12 months if there are special circumstances why you can’t complete the work within the original timescale. If you haven’t asked for an extension before the 12 months the works were to be completed, you will have to apply for consent again and pay the required fees.

After completion of alterations

Once works are complete, a post inspection may be required which will be carried out by the surveyor. If they’re happy with the work, final approval will be granted, and we’ll send you a further notice.

nal consent may involve legal documentation such as lease amendments. Where this applies, our legal fees and other reasonable costs are also payable by you in addition to your solicitor’s fees.

Homeowners are responsible for removing any building waste or rubbish at their own expense., otherwise you’ll be recharged if the council removes it.

All completed alterations must:

  • Meet the council’s and statutory specifications standards
  • Be carried out by competent trades people
  • Be carried out during reasonable hours, usually Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
  • Be solely in the parts of the building owned by the homeowner
  • Not cause any form of damage to the building’s structure
  • Not reduce the value of the property or building
  • Not make the building’s overall management more difficult
  • Have other required building regulations and planning approval/consent

Useful contacts

Homeowner Advisor Team

Phone: 020 7926 1116

Email: HMHomeownership@lambeth.gov.uk

Lambeth Planning Department

Phone: 0207 926 1180

Email: Planning@lambeth.gov.uk

Lambeth Building Control Department

Phone: 020 7926 1150 or 020 7926 9000

Email: buildingcontrol@lambeth.gov.uk

Property Sales Team

Phone: 020 7926 6524

Email: HMHomeownership@lambeth.gov.uk

Insurance

Phone: 020 7926 9330

Email: riskandinsurance@lambeth.gov.uk

Valuation and Strategic Property Services

Email: Vams@lambeth.gov.uk