Another certificate of lawful use

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    Another certificate of lawful use

    Hi All

    New to this forum and looking for advice. Thanks in advance.

    I live in a large house in London, spanning 3 floors.

    The basement is self contained, in that, it has it's own entrance, kitchenette and bathroom. We have had various lodgers living in there (in the form of occupier with basic protection) over the past 8 years or so and I have bank payments and lodger's agreements covering that period. The rent has always included gas, electric, council tax and water etc.. as the basement does not have it's own supply and is not registered with the local authority.

    A friend of mine over the weekend informed me that we may be able to get the basement registered as a separate dwelling through the process of "Certificate of lawful use" and the 4 year rule.

    I've done some research and think he may be right.

    Before proceeding further and spending money, from what I've described above what would you say?

    Providing that the proof of use as a separate dwelling for more than 4 years is available then an application to the Local Planning Authority ought to result in the issue of a Certificate of Lawful Use. This is simply a question of law rather than an application whereby the LPA can consider planning matters such as parking etc.

    After 4 years use as a separate dwelling the time for enforcement action has passed, so that the use is now the lawful use as a dwellinghouse under Use Class C3 of the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order 1987 (As amended).


      Thank you Pilman

      So far the proof I can provide include

      1. Sworn statements from previous lodgers, stating that the basement was self contained and separate from the main house.
      2. Electronic copies of the receipt for the white goods bought for the basement flat, still in use.
      3. Electronic copies of the receipt for the kitchenette ordered for the basement flat, still in use.
      4. Lodger agreements.
      5. Bank statement showing rent paid by lodgers during those years.

      Would you say that's sufficient to demonstrate "proof of use as a separate dwelling"?


        The fact that there is a separate dwelling would mean that it ought to have been assessed for council tax, rather than being acknowledged as a separate dwelling for planning purposes.

        In the1990's I converted a house into two separate flats which were to be rented out to tenants who each was in receipt of housing benefit payments, when such payments were made direct to the landlord at that time.

        No planning permission was applied for, but as soon as the flats were ready for occupation I notified the department responsible for council tax that the flats needed to be assessed for council tax payments.

        That was when an Inland Revenue Valuation Office surveyor was sent to examine the properties and each was allocated a Class A Council tax bracket.

        So after that the council charged the required amount of council tax and began to pay housing benefit payments for each of the tenants renting the individual flats.

        At no time were the council's planning department informed of the fact that two dwellings had been created where only one existed previously.

        Many years later when I decided to sell the property, I decided to seek a Lawful Development Certificate so that I could ensure that any prospective buyer would have the security of knowing that planning had been achieved following 4 years use of the two flats.

        The irony of that application was that the "council" as a single legal person was providing the evidence through its council tax department and its housing benefit department that the planning department was compelled to issue the LDC under section 171B Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991).
        171B Time limits.

        (1)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the carrying out without planning permission of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date on which the operations were substantially completed.

        (2)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the change of use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date of the breach.


          Thanks again Pilman
          So I may have to pay council tax for the past 8 years. It will be money well spent.


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