Who's responsible for retrospective planning/Building Regs?

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  • pilman
    replied
    You need to consider that the Council has many departments.
    The Planning section will not ask the Council Tax section for evidence on your behalf, you need to contact that section and ask them what date the flat was inspected by the Valuation Officer from HMRC who set the Council Tax Band following their site visit to see what the flat comprised of.
    The fact that they were satisfied that there was a separate dwelling in existence on that date, is proof of when the flat became a separate dwelling for planning purposes as well as Council Tax purposes.
    You can also ask the Council Tax section when Council Tax payments were first made following the Band assessment.
    They will provide this information, as I found out when I applied for a Certificate of Lawful Use.
    The Land Registry Title Register has a date on it showing when it was first registered as a separate dwelling and when you became registered Proprietor.
    It is possible to ask the LR for details of the previous Proprietor and the Mortgage Lender. You could then write to the mortgage lender and ask if they could confirm when they had the property valued and when they lent against that, but the fact that they did lend money against that security on the date shown on the old LR Title Register is proof that the dwelling existed from that date.

    These copies are probably going to cost about £8 when you complete a form and send a cheque to Land Registry.
    See their web-site for details of what form and how much, as it could be £12.

    Use that information to prove that 4 years have elapsed since there was a separate dwelling in existence. That should satisfy the legal requirement of the Town and Country Planning Act as amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991 which was posted earlier.
    It is strictly a legal matter of being able to prove that enforcement action can no longer be taken by the Local Planning Authority.

    If the electric, gas and water is separate for your flat ask these Utility companies when they started supplying to the flat.

    If you are unhappy with your solicitor, write letters to each of these yourself.

    Leave a comment:


  • mk1fan
    replied
    You may find the proof you need at the Land Registry, or indeed from the previous mortgage provider. Even the councils our Council Tax records are viable proof.

    Primarily, the costs of regularisation (Building Regs) and Enforcement (Planning) are the responsibility of the property owner. Whether this owner has a legal claim for compensation from a third party (builder or solicitor for example) is a seperate issue.

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  • jeffrey
    replied
    Post #22 is potentially libellous and has been reported to LZ.
    zula: remove the words parenthesised in lines 1/2.

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  • zula
    replied
    Hi everyone
    Just wanted to let you know that 9 months on, we’re still waiting for our solicitors (Healys - avoid them at all costs!) to pull their finger out.
    It’s taken them 9 months and they are now asking us to provide documents for the certificate of lawful use application which we cannot possibly obtain – i.e. the council tax bills of the previous owner of the other flat. He defaulted on his mortgage several years ago and fled the country. Seems like the Council won’t give us the certificate without this information (to prove “continuous use” of both flats as separate entities for 4 years), so god knows what we do now.
    Still getting mixed messages on the building regs issue. Solicitors have offered us an indemnity policy for that, but it was contingent on getting the certificate of lawful use sorted. If we can’t get the certificate of lawful use, we can’t get the policy to cover us for the lack of building regs. Now I’ve read on “planning portal” that enforcement action on building regs has to be taken by the council within 2 years from completion of the work, so it seems like it’s purely hypothetical, but who knows. We need legal advice to get to the bottom of all this but we can’t afford to shell out thousands more for a new solicitor. Does anybody know roughly how much we’d be charged for advice on this? Hundreds of pounds? Thousands?
    In the meantime, our plans to start a family have to stay on hold until we can resolve this and sell the damn place as we can’t fit a baby in with us in a one room flat! I’m so furious at those incompetent, immoral b*st*rds who screwed this all up in the first place and now have no intention of fixing it. We’re totally powerless against them.

    Leave a comment:


  • pilman
    replied
    No Eric it doesn't mean that at all.

    Every time someone divides up a building into numerous flats, each flat becomes a separate dwelling for planning purposes from the moment of creation.
    Section 171(B)2 is clarifying that no enforcement action can be taken against each of the separate flats after 4 years.

    This is the absolute truth, honest guv!

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  • Ericthelobster
    replied
    Originally posted by pilman View Post
    Let's clear up one or two of the postings by confirming that a change of use from one dwelling to two dwellings is exempt from enforcement action after 4 years
    In the bit you've quoted, that looks like changing from two to one, though? A different matter and more likely to be contentious (eg more cars parked on the street etc)

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  • pilman
    replied
    Let's clear up one or two of the postings by confirming that a change of use from one dwelling to two dwellings is exempt from enforcement action after 4 years.
    This is as the result of section 171B of 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.

    (3) In the case of any other breach of planning control, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach.

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  • Always Problems
    replied
    There are 2 seperate issues. I would first find someone who does plans for building regulations, get them in for an inspection and if the work required is not too expensive get it done. So when your application goes in accompanied by the drawings that your flat complies to the 2010 Building Regs the council inspector will accept this.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hooper
    replied
    Originally posted by zula View Post
    Re: planning permission / certificate of lawful use, can somebody confirm whether it needs to be 4 years or 10 years that have elapsed?
    To clarify, the building was orginally a house. In the 1970s it was split into two flats (with planning permission). Sometime around 2004 the top flat was split again from one flat into two (without planning permission). One of those flats is the one we bought. So is this a change of use or not? Four years or ten?
    I'm totally confused.
    In the meantime, we're looking for a good solicitor...
    Zula. I think you are probably looking for too much certainty on this board. The area of law which is relevant to you is not absolutely clear and is open to interpretation by local councils. Your first port of call should be to request in writing what your local council thinks is the appropriate test (preferably without disclosing the site address).

    Regardless of whether their interpretation is correct, if they say it is 4 years then that should suit you and you should get on with finding someone to arrange the relevant application. The example I sent you for Newport Council clearly states that their interpretation is that 4 years are required for conversion and subdivision unless it is converted to an HMO in which case it is 10 years (because that constitutes a change of use).

    If your council says 10 years - then you will need to take further advice on whether to challenge this.

    This kind of uncertainty is not uncommon at a local level. Permitted Development rights and rules are laid down in statute yet, as a developer, I find that even with neighbouring councils their interpretation of what the legislation actually permits can differ widely. It remains so because it is rarely challenged in court.

    That is why you are getting lots of different answers.

    Leave a comment:


  • zula
    replied
    Re: planning permission / certificate of lawful use, can somebody confirm whether it needs to be 4 years or 10 years that have elapsed?
    To clarify, the building was orginally a house. In the 1970s it was split into two flats (with planning permission). Sometime around 2004 the top flat was split again from one flat into two (without planning permission). One of those flats is the one we bought. So is this a change of use or not? Four years or ten?
    I'm totally confused.
    In the meantime, we're looking for a good solicitor...

    Leave a comment:


  • Ericthelobster
    replied
    Originally posted by Brixtonia View Post
    Getting building control sign off will be the expensive part - making sure doors, ceilings and walls meet fire and sound regs etc.
    Yes that can potentially be pretty horrendous especially if a tenacious Building Control Officer decides there's reason to believe things haven't been done properly: eg they can demand that plaster is removed to expose new lintels, floors/ground dug up to look at foundations etc. And of course the very fact that the work was done originally without recourse to Building Control instantly raises the 'cowboy alert' level of suspicion.

    Was the insurance offered in respect of the lack of building regulations too? (Is that insurable against?)
    Yes these indemnity policies would typically cover that too.

    Maybe time to consult another solicitor, who doesn't mind putting the boot into the original mob?

    Leave a comment:


  • Hooper
    replied
    The solicitor should have expressly advised you not to progress with the purchase without the insurance in place. I doubt they would be considered to have carried out their duty of care if they offered insurance as an option without explaining the consequences of not taking out the insurance. They will have also had an obligation to advise your mortgage provider - which they will not have done since the provider is unlikely to have progressed the loan against an illegal development. If this is the case don't go highlighting this to your lender.

    If you are able to establish the 4 years history then sorting out the planning status should not be expensive in the scheme of things. Getting building control sign off will be the expensive part - making sure doors, ceilings and walls meet fire and sound regs etc.. Was the insurance offered in respect of the lack of building regulations too? (Is that insurable against?) If not the costs of bring the property up to the current standards would presumably be claimable against the solicitor.

    Leave a comment:


  • zula
    replied
    We didn't reject the insurance offer - they sent us a letter saying they would provide it if we wanted it and we never heard from them again. We didn't follow up on it immediately because we weren't planning to sell for a while and wanted to think it all through. Given that the solicitor had already screwed up for us almightily once you can understand we didn't want to take his word for anything this time. We didn't realise that we shouldn't contact the council to ask for advice - of course, if the solicitor had said "don't contact the council or we won't be able to give you the insurance" we wouldn't have done it! As the solicitor was responsible for not alerting us to the lack of building/planning permission in the first place, and in effect admitted as much when they first offered us the insurance, surely they can't now claim it's not their problem just because the insurance is no longer an option?

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  • jeffrey
    replied
    Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
    I absolutely agree; but it seems a bit of a tricky one here in that apparently the solicitor concerned has proposed a solution to the problem, but the client seems to have rejected this and then compounded the original problem by going to the council...
    ...thereby losing the ability to seek insurance now.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ericthelobster
    replied
    Originally posted by owen View Post
    IMO the solicitor you used when you bought the flat is responsible for this, as this is exactly the kind of thing they are paid to double check on.
    I absolutely agree; but it seems a bit of a tricky one here in that apparently the solicitor concerned has proposed a solution to the problem, but the client seems to have rejected this and then compounded the original problem by going to the council...

    Leave a comment:

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