Splitting an inherited property?

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    Splitting an inherited property?

    My mum owned a three bed detached house which had a small extension on the side. She got planning permission to replace if with a larger one-bed annexe, which she did about eight years ago. Since then the two properties have been rented out separately, each paying council tax etc.

    My mum's plan was to have separate meters installed for the annexe then split the property into two, but she couldn't do that while the house was still mortgaged. Last year she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and her life insurance paid out. She paid off the mortgage and was planning to sort out the splitting of the properties, but she passed away before this was done.

    Her will is somewhat complicated and leaves us in a difficult position. She has left the main house to us kids, and she has given her husband a life interest in the annexe. This should mean that we can split the properties, sell the house, continue to rent out the annexe with the rent going to her husband for the remainder of his life.

    However, looking into this it seems we may have a problem as the council will need to grant permission for the property to be split.

    Does anyone have any experience of this process and is there any reason they would refuse? As I said, the annexe tenants already pay council tax seperately. The annexe has been done to a high standard, complying with building regs etc. The annexe has its own garden and share of the driveway.

    I am really concerned about this - if we can't split the properties then we can't sell the house, and none of us are really in a position to manage the rental of it longterm, plus a couple of us ideally need to sell in order to buy properties of our own. If anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it.


    Sorry to hear about your mum. I'm sure after you have got probate you will be able to split the properties without any problems. It is quite easy to get separate utilities etc.

    Is your mum's husband OK with having the beneficial interest only of the Annexe? I don't know if I am right, but I think, because your mum was married to this chap, he has the right to stay in the marital home for as long as he likes. I think he can make an application to the Courts to stay there if he wants too.


      Sorry to hear you news.

      Property rights in such situations are complicated: Sort probate 1st, then the split next.

      If husband accepts situation good, but get it confirmed in writing with assistance from a good FAMILY LAW solicitor.
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


        Their marital home is separate (they joint owned a one bed flat) - this is the old family home which mum extended and he has no connection to it aside from living there almost a decade ago for a couple of years. Mum left him the flat and the life interest in the annexe plus her pension and 1/4 of her money so he's happy and in a good position.

        I'm just concerned about whether the council could or would object to splitting the properties and wanted to see if anyone has been through this process.

        Thanks for your kind words. We are taking everything to the solicitor on Monday having spent the last few weeks sleuthing and organising, so probate is in hand and will be sorted shortly. My next job is to get the utilities split but don't want to spend money on that if the council then refuse for some reason.

        Also, there is currently only one water supply which is unmetered - do we only have to have an additional supply put in or do we have to have water meters installed?

        Gas and electric are complicated. At present there seems to be one supply and one bill but there are two meters for each service - one global meter and one showing the annexe's usage. So obviously something has already been done, but not everything. Very confusing. We've been told to expect to pay £3-£4k for splitting the utilities, does that sound reasonable?

        Any advice greatly appreciated, I've never even owned a property before so it's all baffling to me!
        Last edited by Rachel1982; 26-06-2015, 20:09 PM. Reason: Clarity


          Rachel, you'd probably be better of asking a solicitor for advice here from a good solicitor rather than an anonymous internet forum. Most solicitor firms have property dispute experts in their 'family' division, and although you are not in dispute these would be probably be the best for you to seek advice from.


            Thanks - we are seeing our regular solicitor on Monday to sort finalise the probate stuff and we will ask him to refer us to someone who specialises in this stuff. Mainly I was just curious whether anyone else had been through a similar process and whether they had any issues - obviously I will also get proper legal advice


              The fact that the local council have accepted that there are currently two separate dwellings which were separately liable to Council tax will mean that your decision has nothing to do with the council.

              As far as planning law is concerned if the two properties have been in use as two separate dwellings for more than 4 years then the use is now lawful.

              It would be possible to apply to the local planning authority for a Certificate of Lawfulness that will then prove to any prospective buyer that the legal planning situation regarding the two separate parts of the original building has been confirmed.

              The beneficaries can then decide how to deal with each property after probate is granted.

              The fact that there is not separate services to the two properties is a practical matter that would need to be dealt with before offering anything for sale on the open market.

              Not many buyers will want to find out that the annexe is receiving services intended for the main house.

              It will be possible to register both properties under separate Land Registry titles once probate is granted, then arrange for each property to be provided with the individual services to make them totally independent of each other.

              The main house can be registered with the family members named as owner following the terms of the will.
              The annexe can be registered with the husband's name also shown as owner.
              That is where a competent conveyancer will advise about the life interest set out in the will.

              Then each property can be dealt with by the respective legal owners who will all need to agree on what is to happen.

              If there is not a unanimous decision about whether to sell the properties or to rent the properties, that may need a court order to decide the matter, but there is nothing that the council can do to prevent a legal separation of the two properties that now have a lawful use as separate dwellings due to the 8 years during which it can be proven from council tax records and tenancy agreements that two separate dwellings have been in use.


                That is incredibly helpful, thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it.


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