Selling Victorian house as 3 self contained flats with retrospective planning

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    Selling Victorian house as 3 self contained flats with retrospective planning

    I inherited a Victorian property 12 years ago, which had already been converted into three dwellings many years previously and has always been rented out as such. It has three separate lots of council tax registered, and one of the flats has its own separate basement entrance.

    My problem is, I have recently decided I’d like to sell the property. However, according to the land registry details, the property is registered as two dwellings, even though three lots of council tax are registered. I don’t think any planning permissions were sought when this property was converted back in 1979. Where do I stand if I now want to sell the property as three individual dwellings? Or would it be easier to sell it as two? The whole process is out of the blue and a bit confusing.

    You need to apply for lawful development consent and have title amended.


      After 4 years the use of the property that had been converted into three separate dwellings became lawful under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. That was because the local planning authority could no longer take enforcement action to curtail the breach of planning control that was a change of use to three separate dwellings from whatever was the legal situation regarding planning law prior to that change.

      Why there is two separate Land Registry titles does not relate to the planning use of the property or properties, although you would need to establish whether the titles are freehold or leasehold titles.

      There may be an original freehold title for the whole house, but at some time one flat was transferred as a separate leasehold title, which would be described as either "the ground Floor flat " or "the First Floor flat" if there had been a transfer of either part of the original house after it had been converted into two flats.

      When an application is made to the LPA for a Lawful Development Certificate all that is needed is clear evidence of the use as three separate dwellings for a period in excess of 4 years prior to the date of the application.
      The evidence of the council tax payments is quite conclusive, as would be any tenancy agreements that have been granted to the separate tenants of each flat. There is a fee to pay, but the LPA cannot take into consideration any planning matters such as parking spaces or adequate amenity space for each flat, which could be considered for a planning application to have a change of use.

      It is simply a matter of fact as to whether the flats have existed as separate entities for more than 4 years.

      Once an LDC has been issued confirming that there are 3 lawful dwellings that will assist when it comes to selling off the separate flats as leasehold titles.

      You can retain the freehold title, which could include payments of ground rent for each flat if that was what you wanted to do, although you would then be responsible for maintaining the structure of the building.

      The alternative is to transfer each flat as a leasehold title and transfer the freehold to be owned jointly by each flat-owner. That is then a clear break with no further involvement with the building.

      Each new owner of a flat would have to apply to Land Registry to be registered as the proprietor of a leasehold title and would also have to have their name added as a joint owner of the freehold title. All of that being their responsibility after buying the flats from you.

      Your Capital Gains tax will be based on the sale value compared with the value declared when probate was granted on the property 12 years ago, although you could decide to sell one flat in each financial year to claim the annual CGT allowance of £12,000 each time a flat was sold.
      That way you can continue to receive rental income as well as realising some capital in the most tax efficient way.


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