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Lease Overview: Alterations

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Part 8 – Alterations

The majority of leases will severely restrict the ability of the tenant to carry out any alterations to the property.  The justification for this is that the tenant only has a short-term interest in the property and the landlord wants to be able to rent the property out again easily, which they might not be able to do if the tenant has altered it to their own personal requirements. 

Cosmetic and decorative alterations are generally permitted, although towards the end of the lease the landlord can exercise control over the decoration.  Internal demountable partitions are also often allowed, so long as they are removed at the end of the term.  Where more significant alterations are required, there is usually provision for internal and non-structural alterations to be carried out with the landlord’s prior consent.  The landlord will have to approve drawings and specifications in advance and may, at the tenant’s expense, employ a surveyor to oversee the works. 

Where any alterations are carried out, the landlord will usually reserve the right to require the property to be reinstated at the end of the term.  Tenants should also be aware that they may not be allowed to remove their alterations, which can have cost implications, particularly if equipment such as air conditioning units have been added.  Another issue is whether, on any rent review, the property is assessed as altered or as originally laid out. 

In this series of articles, we are aiming to give you a brief overview of the principal areas covered by a commercial lease.  These articles are for guidance only and do not represent legal advice.  If you need advice or assistance on leases or any other property concern, please do not hesitate to contact Andrew Rannie, Head of the Property Department for a free initial consultation.