Landlord's consent to change of use
Landlord's consent to change of use

The following Property practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Landlord's consent to change of use
  • Form of covenant
  • No covenant
  • Absolute covenant
  • Hybrid covenants
  • Qualified covenant
  • Fully qualified covenant
  • Application for consent
  • When is it reasonable to withhold consent?
  • Conditions on consent
  • More...

Form of covenant

Leases generally restrict the tenant's use of the property to a specific purpose, whether specifically described or expressed by reference to planning use classes. The tenant’s ability to change the use will turn on the form of covenant in the lease. It is important to properly analyse the covenant to decide whether it restricts alternative uses, and if so to what extent.

No covenant

In the absence of any restriction, the tenant is free to use the premises as it pleases, in accordance with general law. Note however that other covenants may have the indirect effect of restricting changes of use, for example covenants to comply with planning conditions or to seek the landlord’s consent before making any planning application.

Absolute covenant

A covenant that prohibits entirely the intended use is often described as an absolute covenant. There is no statutory modification of absolute covenants so they constitute a complete bar. The covenant should still be analysed to check precisely what is prohibited.

If there is an absolute covenant, the landlord has complete discretion about whether to grant consent and, if so, on what terms (including whether or not the amendment should be recorded in a deed of variation as opposed to a licence—which is likely to be depend on whether the landlord is happy for the change of use to also apply to future assignees).

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