Improving Your Home
As a Leaseholder, you may wish to make improvements and / or alterations to your home. This page provides information on whether you are eligible to do so and how to identify improvements which might be subject to certain conditions, Local Authority Planning Permission or other regulations.
You need permission from L&Q to make improvements as L&Q own the freehold of the block / your home.
- For Leasehold apartments / flats, L&Q normally own the building that you live in and the estate and land on which it stands. The lease agreement which you signed when you purchased the home provides detail of the permissions required for improvements and alterations and we consider all applications for improvements and / or alterations affecting the building you live in and the surrounding areas. This includes communal areas, gardens, roof and loft space. This guarantees that the structure of the building remains safe for all occupants and ensures that any changes made do not adversely affect the rights of other individuals who live in the building.
- On occasion, there may be a different freeholder who owns the building, estate and land that your home is situated on. Permission is normally required from the freeholder if it is not L&Q.
- For Leasehold houses, it is likely that you purchased your home through Shared Ownership and as such L&Q owns a share of the house. You need to have written permission from L&Q for any alterations until you own 100% of the property and are the freeholder.
What we need you to provide
We deal with minor and major alterations slightly differently due to the level of work required to assess major alterations.
When you wish to make either minor or major alterations to your home you must:
- Make an enquiry to L&Q and in return we will provide you with a Home Improvement Enquiry Pack
- Seek any relevant statutory consents such as Building Control and Planning Permission from your Local Authority. You should be aware that your Local Authority may charge a fee for such applications and these are normally non-refundable, even if L&Q are unable to provide consent to your request
- Provide L&Q with details of the intended alteration in writing. You need to provide detailed information about the property as well as details of the intended works. We ask that you provide the relevant documents such as drawings of existing and proposed new layouts (where applicable), details of the contractor that is carrying out the works, a quotation of the cost of works, etc. Further information is detailed within the Enquiry Pack
- Pay L&Q an administration fee for us to assess and process your request (see below for details)
The process explained
Upon receipt of your application form and relevant documents we will assess it and liaise with the relevant departments within L&Q to ascertain whether approval can be granted. Should a surveyor visit be required, we will notify you to ensure that you are aware of the associated fees.
We will then advise you of the outcome and should the alterations/improvements require changes to your lease, we will request your solicitors details in order for your lease to be varied. You will be liable to cover your own legal fees as well as any legal fees that L&Q are required to pay.
The solicitors will progress accordingly and a Deed of Variation will be completed to make the necessary amendments to your lease.
Your questions answered
Will making improvements affect my lease agreement?
For most home improvements the answer is no. However, if alterations are major ones, such as moving a wall, this may affect your lease. Any legal costs incurred to make the necessary changes will be your responsibility. We will advise you if this is the case and of the costs involved before your application is processed any further. If the alterations are significant you may also need the permission of the bank or building society who lent you the money to buy your home.
What does L&Q's administration fee cover? Are there any other costs that I will have to pay when applying to making improvements to my home?
L&Q's administration fee enables us to process your request accordingly. For minor Home Improvements, fees are £65 and should you require a Licence to provide to the Local Authority or your mortgage lender, an additional £300 is payable plus any legal fees. If the lease plan needs amending, there is a one off fee of £100 for this service. For major Home Improvements, the administration fee is £130, with an additional £150 fee should a surveyor be required to visit, plus Licence and legal fees. We appreciate that it may be hard to understand what costs will be payable at this time and we therefore hope to advise you of the likely costs so you can decide if you wish to continue. Such costs would need to be paid before written permission for the works will be granted.
How do I pay the fees?
We have a full breakdown of our administration charges (see below). You may pay using a credit or debit card by contacting the Home Owner Options team.
What if I have already carried out improvements without first receiving written permission?
If you carry out improvements without our written permission you are in breach of your lease. We will deal with your application in the same way as if you had asked first and you will need to apply for approval for the unauthorised work immediately. Any costs incurred to provide retrospective authorisation would be your responsibility to pay until permission is granted. If you cannot prove you have received written permission from L&Q for any improvements or alterations you have carried out this may affect any future sale of your lease and we can pursue legally.
What improvements need Planning Permission and/or Building Control approval?
It is always best if you approach your Local Authority to answer this question, however from our experience, Planning Permission is required with changes to the use of land and the external appearance of buildings. If the property is listed, in a conservation area or the plans involve external building work, you should contact your Local Authority's Planning department.
Building Control approval ensures that building work meets certain requirements relating to health and safety, energy conservation, etc and more recently certain types of electrical work.
The level of Building Control approval will be advised by the Local Authority's Building Control department. Fees may be applicable for these services which are non-refundable.
What types of alterations are likely to be refused permission?
We will always consider an application, however from experience, we will not allow you to:
- Purchase the loft space or grant a licence to use a loft space if it isn't demised to you in the lease. If it is demised, then decisions on a sale or a licence to use the space will be made on a case by case basis
- Convert a basement
- Purchase an area of land or a building element outside of the current demise of your lease.
In addition to this, Right to Buy and Right to Acquire leases require the leaseholder to keep the property as a self-contained residential flat. Any application to subdivide a flat is unlikely to be agreed.
Why do I have to submit certificates for gas and electrical work?
During the process we ask that certain documents are provided to assist with assessing your request. When certain works are carried out, we will ask for confirmation of these works and should they affect the gas and / or electrical supply, we ask for gas and/or electrical certificates to be provided. This is for your own safety and due to the nature of the work, we must ensure that the work has been carried out in line with current regulations. Your contractor will provide you with the appropriate certificates.
If you do not send us the certificates, we will send out an engineer to inspect the work and issue the appropriate certification. The cost of this will be your responsibility.
Following my application, how long do I have to wait for a decision?
You will receive a decision from us within 28 days of us receiving your application. We would like to respond as soon as possible, however we need to liaise with other departments within L&Q who may have to carry out some further checks before approval can be granted. You must not start work until you receive this in writing from us.
Do I have the right to appeal against a decision?
If you are unhappy with a decision that has been made, you have the right to appeal within 28 days of the date of the letter. We ask that you send appeals to us directly for the Team Leader to assess and review.