Council are saying we can’t stay in our own annex?

by Readers Question

11:34 AM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

Council are saying we can’t stay in our own annex?

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Council are saying we can’t stay in our own annex?

We demolished an existing garage and rebuilt it with a small flat above about 5 years ago. The planning terms were that only friends or family could stay in the annex.

It’s self-contained and has its own drive and entrance. We’ve recently moved to Portugal and rented out the main house. My husband’s internet business is UK based and he travels back every month or so for 4-5 nights for business. He pays for and maintains a professional internet provider to the property and stays in the annex when he goes over for business. This is where all his major computer work is done. Our Portuguese internet isn’t up to the job. Our car is kept in the garage below the flat.

About 3 months ago a family friend ended up homeless through personal reasons and we’ve allowed him to stay in the annex when we aren’t using it. He crashes on his dad’s sofa when we are over. It suits us, the flat gets used and he prepares it for our arrival.

However, we’ve just received a letter from the local council stating that we are in breach of our planning conditions. I assumed it was because our friend was staying there, but it also turns out because we are staying in our own property.

Apparently because we are not related, or friends of the people we rent the main house to, we cannot stay in the annex.

Had we known this would be the case we’d have rented the entire property out including the annex although the computer situation would have proved difficult. Can the council enforce this as we actually own it?

Now apart from anything else we’ll have to ask our friend to leave. Can we drag this out to enable him to find somewhere to live?

I know his finances are currently very stretched.



Comments

Paul Kaye

12:35 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

Hi
I would try and get retrospective planning and or tell the council you will be contacting your MP Seeing there is a housing shortage and the coucil are being unreasonable.
Another way around this may be to allow your tenants to sublet and let out the annex.They could of course make your friend their friend! too.
You can also tell the council that this man will be homeless and ask them to house him! they may relent when they read all you are prepared to do and act on.
good luck,you need it with those small minded councils.

Paul

Graham Bowcock

12:46 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

The answer to your question will begin with a look at the planning consent, and the conditions, for the annex. You will need to abide by those. It seems you may not have been complying, hence the approach from the Council. How far the Council will go will depend on their general attitude to these things; some are more laissez-faire than others (and have bigger fish to fry).

I don't suppose that your friend's circumstances are remotely relevant to the Council if you are in breach and they choose to pursue.

Mike W

13:00 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

I have come across this before and you need to carefully read the planning conditions applicable to the conversion. This usually happens when the annex is deemed for planning purposes to be part of the original house. (= you cannot subdivide the property)

Now logic would suggest that if you can 'rent a room' in your house you can rent out the larger part (the original house) and live in the smaller part (the annex) but of course then you would have (possibly) a different rent agreement.

At least that is what neighbours of ours did.

Freda Blogs

13:43 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

I suspect the reason that the Council has taken issue is because you have effectively created a new/ separate dwelling, which in planning terms would not have been allowed, hence the restrictions placed on the planning consent, and the Council may therefore commence enforcement proceedings if you continue to use the Annexe as you are doing.

You could also be attracting problems in other areas too:

Council Tax: You should also be aware that there may also be a Council Tax implication and if you continue to use this as an independent unit you may also attract a separate council Tax liability, likely at Band A;

The AST of the house: Have you separated out the Annexe from the house on your AST – i.e. is the Annexe/garage expressly excluded? If not, you may have issues with your tenant;

CGT/PPR: Finally, I am not an accountant but think you may also have a problem regarding CGT and your PPR relief by explicitly using the Annexe as a separate unit for business purposes.

Gillian Schifreen

14:00 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Freda Blogs at 26/09/2017 - 13:43
One of the rooms in the main house was listed as an office in the original planning occupation so as the annex is technically a part of that we are covered. It's simply a different room. Bizarrely you get brownie points in planning for having a home office as it means you make fewer car journeys by not travelling to work.

Gillian Schifreen

14:01 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Kaye at 26/09/2017 - 12:35
You can't let out the annex, that is the point. It can only be used by (none paying) friends and family. But I assumed wrongly it seems that as we own it wouldn't be an issue.

Gillian Schifreen

14:02 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Freda Blogs at 26/09/2017 - 13:43
Yes the AST was for the main house only as they have different addresses. I realise now yes technically we are in breach of planning but had no idea we would be as we own the annex and assumed we could stay there!

Gillian Schifreen

14:03 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Mike W at 26/09/2017 - 13:00
That is worth looking into. Thanks.

James Barnes

14:04 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

As others have mentioned above, the issue here is likely that the annex is no longer in ancillary use to the main dwelling, which is probably what the planning consent allows for.
Once the annex is sub let or used by someone unconnected/related to the occupants of the main house then it's effectively being used as a dwelling in its own right. Councils probably want to avoid this, as allowing it would set a precedent , think "beds in sheds".
You could try applying for retrospective planning permission but I suspect this'll open another bunch of issues like Council Tax and having separate services that you might be better off avoiding.

Gillian Schifreen

14:06 PM, 26th September 2017
About A year ago

The council have now told me the situation is confusing as we want to stay in somewhere we own and they will look into it and come back to me.

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