Buying a house with an unapproved loft conversion?

Buying a house with an unapproved loft conversion?

15:28 PM, 29th July 2021, About 3 years ago 19

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I have reached sale agreed for a semi-detached house and am in the mortgage application phase of the purchase. The house has a converted loft space for storage, with a fixed staircase leading up to the loft.

The conversion does not have approval from the local authority. This was made clear to us before the sale by the estate agent, who indicated it would not be a problem as it is only used for extra storage space and not advertised as an extra bedroom.

The valuation survey done by our bank showed this up and stated ‘Conveyancer should confirm that all statutory and local authority approvals have been obtained for attic conversion for storage purposes with fixed staircase and Velux window.’

I discussed this with our conveyancer, and he indicated that if the conversion was done within the last 10 years (which it has) the bank will require retrospective planning approval before the funds can be issued. What I want to know is there anyone who has been in the same position, and what way did it turn out because it seems to me like if there is no planning granted then the bank will not provide the finance?

Again we knew there was no planning permission and are happy to purchase the house without it (we were told by the estate agent it would not be a problem because it is not advertised as an extra bedroom) but obviously the bank and conveyancer look at it differently.

Many thanks


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19:49 PM, 1st August 2021, About 3 years ago

Not sure what you're getting at here. Those that are not "granted" mean nothing and they to old anyway

On the recent one that was granted, was the work done and was it done to approved plan and any conditions. - check the planning file. PLUS did it get building consent.
Breaches of conditions are enforceable for ten years ( but it wold need to be a significant breach ).

David McCormick

3:11 AM, 6th August 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by blair at 30/07/2021 - 20:47
Good point about the 4-year rule, not 10-year rule.
I've had this 'problem' with so-called professionals in the past.

Bruce Patterson

22:28 PM, 6th August 2021, About 3 years ago

Depends on what alterations have been done - if roof trusses have been moved to create additional storage then could be a safety issue. If no safety issues and been converted properly then it’s just classed as a loft area then valuer shouldn't have an issue other than not valuing the area as an additional bedroom. If your happy with the above you can take out an indemnity policy which insures against having to redo the conversion at a later date if building control force you to reconfigure it to current regulations.

kieran doolabh

19:03 PM, 26th September 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Trish at 31/07/2021 - 16:39
Hi Trish,

Sorry to hear what happened to you!

Where does it say that you cannot rent out a room that hasn't received building control approval? Are there any official documents to read?


23:55 PM, 26th September 2022, About A year ago

Hi, normally a bank would accept an 'indemnity policy' in these circumstances but I am always worried when works have been undertaken in the loft without building regs or a completion certificate.

It's all well and good having an indemnity policy but that's not going to help if the roof struts have been moved and the bl**dy thing falls in on you!

Personally, i would have a full survey undertaken. This will at least confirm to you that, even if building regs and completion certificate were not obtained, the works carried out do meet the required standard and are safe.

With regards to planning permission, normal loft conversions wouldn't require planning permission but if dormer windows, for example, have been created then this should have been obtained. If the works were carried out within the last 10 years and you are concerned you could ask the sellers to obtain retrospective planning permission (they won't want to do) if necessary but you should still have a structural survey to make sure that the person undertaking the work knew what they were doing!

If the sellers do agree to make an application for retrospective planning permission this will put the works on the local authority's radar (not that the dept speak to each other!) so the lack of building regs may come up but if a survey has been completed before the applications are made then at least you will be able to satisfy yourself that it would pass any building regs inspection.


kieran doolabh

14:33 PM, 27th September 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by CMS at 26/09/2022 - 23:55
Charles, do you know the laws regarding landlords renting out an unapproved loft? Any official docs I can read?


15:43 PM, 27th September 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by kieran doolabh at 27/09/2022 - 14:33
Hi, as a landlord you do owe a duty of care to the tenants and so should ensure that the property is safe. Without the relevant consents the concern would be that, if something did happen and someone was hurt, you don't have evidence that you have complied with your obligations.

I am not sure what you have converted the loft space too but I don't think it is able to be listed as an additional room unless you have the relevant consents. You also need to consider the impact using the loft space for a let, without the relevant consents, might have on your insurance. Again, if something happened and someone was injured and made a claim against you the likelihood is that the insurers would resist paying out if the injury took place in the loft and you didnt have the relevant consents.

Hope this helps. Best, Charles

kieran doolabh

15:50 PM, 27th September 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by CMS at 27/09/2022 - 15:43
Very useful, thanks Charles.

I've done some digging in the background for relevant official documents.

I expect the landlord's duty of care relating to matters such as renting unapproved spaces is outlined in the Defective Premises Act 1972.


16:29 PM, 27th September 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by kieran doolabh at 27/09/2022 - 15:50
Might also be caught by the Homes Act if it can be argued that its not 'fit for human habitation.' I admit my knowledge of what amounts to this is limited (i would have to research) but i would certainly think that not having the required consents would not go in the landlords favour! Best, Charles

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