What is a deed of variation on a leasehold property?

When you purchase a leasehold property whether that is a house or flat, it can be similar to renting in that there may be some restrictions in place that you would need to agree with the freeholder to change. That’s where the deed of variation comes in as it is essentially the legal document that supports the main lease but allows certain changes to be made by the leaseholder with the freeholder’s agreement.

A deed of variation on a leasehold property can be beneficial to both the landlord and the leaseholder in the right circumstances. In this article we will be exploring the deed in more detail and answering some of the key questions you need to know to ensure it can work for you and your situation.

Why might you need a deed of variation?

You may have heard the term restrictive covenant either when signing your main lease or when looking into the deed of variation. A restrictive covenant is something that you are not permitted to do in your leasehold property that will be noted in your lease agreement.

It might be that you were happy with the terms of the original lease at the time you signed it, but your situation has changed, and you want to be able lift a restrictive covenant. As long as the freeholder agrees you can use the deed of variation to legally alter the agreement and accommodate what you want to do with the property. You can find some of the main examples of the changes that can be made with a deed of variation below.

  • Using the property for business purposes – typically, leasehold agreements don’t allow the residential property in question to be used as a place of business.
  • Preventing the ground rent level from increasing – even if ground rent level increase is not an issue currently it could be in the future particularly in relation to your mortgage.
  • Making changes to the building – this is not as common as some of the other examples, but some freeholders can be stricter than others in what they will allow leaseholders to change to the inside or outside of their property.
  • Having pets in the property – the keeping of pets can be an extremely divisive topic and some freeholders will feel strongly against having them. However, if an agreement can be reached for having pets in the home, then the deed of variation will be beneficial in legalising that so the freeholder can’t go back on the decision.
  • Subletting the property – it would be difficult to have this restrictive covenant varied because many purchasing contracts don’t allow subletting it is not just the decision of the freeholder.

How long does it take to get a deed of variation?

Every situation is different so there cannot be a set time for how long it will take to get a deed of variation. If it is a fairly straightforward request and the freeholder is happy to agree to the terms and sign the deed, then it could take a few weeks for the legalities to come into effect.

However, in more complicated situations where there are multiple parties involved like the mortgage lender or the freeholder is dragging their feet it could take several months for the deed of variation to take hold. It is extremely rare for deeds of variation to take a year or longer to complete.

Are you required to register a variation deed with the Land Registry?

Yes, the deed of variation cannot be legalised and official until it has been registered with the Land Registry. This is because if you want to remortgage or sell the property, a lender or solicitor would want to check all the details that are involved in your leaseholder agreement. Keep in mind that if your mortgage lender has any protection or restrictions on the title of the property then you might require their permission to get a deed of variation.

How much does a deed of variation cost?

Again, it is difficult to provide exact guidance on costs for a deed of variation because it can depend on a few factors including, exactly what the deed will be changing and how quickly both parties can come to an agreement and have the documents submitted. Generally, the cost of a deed of variation will be in the hundreds of pounds but more complicated circumstances can result in it climbing into the thousands.

It is also important to note that it will be the responsibility of the leaseholder the cover the cost of the deed of variation. So, you might want to think carefully about what the outcome is worth to you before you go down this route.


Hopefully this guide has given you a better understanding of a deed of variation so you can decide whether it is the right option for you. Our expert residential conveyancing solicitors can provide advice and help you with the process of entering a deed of variation. If you’re looking for property conveyancing in Cramlington contact our friendly team at Toomey today and trust our experienced specialists to guide you through the process smoothly and efficiently.