Flat below has all rooms only accessible via the communal hallway! Is that legal?

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    Flat below has all rooms only accessible via the communal hallway! Is that legal?

    Hey everyone,

    I have just made an offer on a 2 bed flat in North London and am waiting to hear back (it's the top 2 floors of a 4 storey victorian house). There's 3 more flats in the building, 1 in the basement, 1 on the ground floor and 1 on the 1st floor. The flat below (on the 1st floor) is a one bed flat with a bedroom, a reception room, a kitchen and a bathroom and all four rooms are only accessible via doors from the communal hallway. So when we walk up the stairs to get to our flat, on the 1st floor there's what appears to be 4 front doors (we originally thought they were studios), that actually lead into each of his rooms. From the plans there are no internal doors what so ever so the tenant has to go out one door into the main hallway and into another whenever he wants to go between rooms.

    Obviously this is pretty strange (particularly as my girlfriend would rather not find him in his pants going to the bathroom when she's coming back from work late!) and I wanted to check whether this is likely to be legal (as it seems so weird it would be allowed from a planning perspective) and whether there is likely to be anything we can do to force them to change it or if we just have to lump it (and probably for quite a while as it's a regulated tenancy so noone will have any impetus to change it).

    FYI the current leases on all flats in the building were started in 1997 and run for 125 years so i believe this is when the conversion was done. The only reason I’m really aware of it is because this flat has just gone up for sale (for a pretty cheap price as it’s got a regulated tenant) and I got the plans from the auction company. I'm speaking to the planning office tomorrow about other alterations so will ask them about it then too.

    I would really appreciate any advice or thoughts on this situation and how it may have arisen, whether it was legal and whether anything can be done about it now.

    Thanks so much for your help as ever,

    Dave

    #2
    As with your other post I would suggest you check that the flat conversion works were signed off by Building Control.

    If you plan to buy the lower flat and you intend to alter it - to make it self contained - then be sure you're clear on the Bulding Regs implications for the alterations. Any alterations will need to comply with the current regs which have changed significantly since 1997.
    There is always scope for misinterpretation.

    If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

    Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by mk1fan View Post
      As with your other post I would suggest you check that the flat conversion works were signed off by Building Control.

      If you plan to buy the lower flat and you intend to alter it - to make it self contained - then be sure you're clear on the Bulding Regs implications for the alterations. Any alterations will need to comply with the current regs which have changed significantly since 1997.
      Unfortunately i don't have the cash to buy the lower flat otherwise i'd definitely like to As a result i wanted to see if anyone has any idea how it may have arisen in the first place, whether it was legal and whether anything can be done about it now.

      With regards to checking it was done to building regs surely this layout wouldn't really have much impact on building regs, wouldn't this be more of a planning issue? Additionally (if it is building regs) then how do I go about checking that a flat i don't own/have access to complies with building regs?

      Thanks very much for your help,

      Dave

      Comment


        #4
        The big assumption here is that the flats have remained unchanged since the property was converted into flats and that consents and sign off was made by both Planning and Building Control.

        I don't know of any regulation that prohibites the layout you describe. There's certainly plenty of conversion flats where the toilet is accessed off the communal staircase - London Victorian terraced Town Houses are a typical example. It's certainly not desirable though.

        Your solicitor should, as part of their conveyencing checks, make searches to check that the Building Control and Planning approvals are in place.

        I can guarantee you that the whole building will NOT comply with the CURRENT building regulations. That's not to say that it doesn't comply with the regualtions in place at the time of conversion.

        The layout won't be a Planning issue - other than the area of each room being adequate.

        Yes, it can be altered. At a cost and, of course, the extra expense of bringing the affected areas up to meet current Building Regs.

        There are a miriade of reasons why the person converting the building chose that arrangement.
        There is always scope for misinterpretation.

        If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

        Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

        Comment


          #5
          Hi deshg, imagine you bought both flats, would you then become a resident landlord of the regulated tenant? Could you then try to change the nature of the regulated tenancy, which would then open all sorts of possibilities?

          chris

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by lordbaldrick View Post
            Hi deshg, imagine you bought both flats, would you then become a resident landlord of the regulated tenant? Could you then try to change the nature of the regulated tenancy, which would then open all sorts of possibilities?

            chris
            If by resident landlord of the regulated tenant you mean living in the flat above then yes. Does this give you greater right to amend the regulated tenancy as my understanding was these are pretty much impossible to break in any situation?

            Thanks very much, obviously if I could actually get my hands on that flat without a tenancy then that would be extremely interesting!

            Dave

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