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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H01M03S

The freeholder of a commercial building (‘the Landlord’) granted a lease of the whole building to a tenant. The tenant is concerned that the building does not benefit from enough natural light and now wishes to create two new apertures in an external wall of the building to accommodate windows. The tenant is seeking the consent of the Landlord to make these alterations. The alterations covenant in the lease is as follows: “The Tenant may not make alterations to the Building save for non-structural alterations.” 

Can the Landlord withhold consent to the tenant’s proposed alterations without giving reasons?

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In this scenario, the lease contains an absolute prohibition against structural alterations. The creation of new apertures in an external wall to accommodate windows would be considered a structural alteration. Since the lease explicitly prohibits structural alterations, the Landlord is within their rights to withhold consent to the proposed alterations without giving reasons. The implied proviso that a Landlord's consent is not to be unreasonably withheld typically applies to qualified covenants, not absolute prohibitions. Therefore, the Landlord does not need to provide a reason for withholding consent when the prohibition is absolute. 

Key Point: An absolute prohibition against structural alterations in a lease means the Landlord can withhold consent for such alterations without providing reasons. The tenant must comply with the terms of the lease, which explicitly restrict structural changes to the building.

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