Purchase of refurbished house without planning permission

by Readers Question

10:19 AM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Purchase of refurbished house without planning permission

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Purchase of refurbished house without planning permission

I am currently in the process of buying a property which the vendor has recently refurbished, this included the fitting of UPvC windows and door. My conveyancer discovered that the property is in a conservation area, and apparently there was no local authority consent for the new façade.door

When pressed by my conveyancer, the vendor claimed retrospective permission had been applied for “but the council was dragging its feet.” But my conveyancer doubts this.

Then the Estate Agency handling the sale said the vendor made an offer to reduce the agreed sale price by £3K (to cover the reconversion cost and thus expediate the sale).

I should say at this point an attempted sale of this property fell through about 6 month previously. (Hmmm……, I am reading between the lines)

Alarm bells justified? Should I accept the discount and go ahead? My conveyancer said to me ultimately it depends on how much I want the property.

I would appreciate any considered advice with explanation.

Many thanks in advance.

Roman



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:23 AM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Roman,

Worst case scenario would 3K cover the cost of putting the doors and windows back?

Rob Crawford

10:54 AM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Vendor is probably desperate by now! It's not as though he has built an extension. I would estimate the cost (and inconvenience) of restoring it back to it's original condition and double that with a new offer. Fantastic opportunity to get it well below market value!

Harlequin Garden

12:31 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Ask local planning department if UPVC windows are acceptable - sorry to state the obvious. Are there any other in the street -just because it's in a conservation area doesn't mean you can't put in UPVC - most people aren't aware/don't care/never even thought of it and nothing happens. If £3,000 takes it to 'well below market' value it doesn't sound as though the property is of great value. Take out indemnity insurance - before alerting council

Steven Burman

13:55 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Be wary, it may be that the windows & doors are not the only the only items that required permission.

If retrospective permission has been applied for it is a 5 minute task to view the application on the local authorites website (although I doubt that an application has been made).

Speak to the local authority conservation officer responsible before going any further - they may already be aware that this is a 'problem property'.

You could end up with a lot more than £3k to spend on putting things right.

Harlequin Garden

14:45 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

By mentioning 'conveyancer' I have to assume it is one of the on line people. If so, they are not thorough and do the bare minimum - I know from experience and have had issues and on one occasion (the 'issue' came to light 2 years later with unpaid service charges) had to take the case away and give to a 'proper solicitor' who dotted i's and crossed t's and rewrote the lease. Some go through ok but not if there is an issue or if you want questions answered.

If you go ahead insist that the vendor take out indemnity insurance against any local authority issues.

It is not 'good value' if you have to do work using your own time and money and lost rental income.

Graham Bowcock

15:14 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Roman

Two points here.

Firstly, if the vendor has made an application to the council that should be a matter of fact and demonstrable; ask for a copy, speak to the council, establish timescales for dealing with it.

Secondly, there may be an issue with any mortgage lender having concerns. As a valuer I would flag such issues with the lender, probably recommending that the matter be put right before lending any money. I say probably because it would really depend on the facts; what work has been done, is it in keeping with the locality, how far along is any retrospective application?

Just be wary that even if you are buying for cash, if you have to sell it your buyers may need a mortgage. You therefore need to be sure of your facts and if you're still going for it then haggle hard.

Graham

Chris Byways

16:36 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Good points. I had to take out indemnity insurance for a listed building with a rear upvc window, which had no permission.

One of the terms was that I did not report it to the council. It was not a major item if it had to be replaced by wood, and with chancel repair liability the premium was a little over £500.

Can you get insurance at a reasonable rate?
Ensure the seller pays for this of course, but IF they have lied about applying for retrospective pp how far can you trust them???????

They no doubt want a sale by 1/4/16, as you do. Push hard to conclude it, but ensure you can sell.

Is there any security or fire or building regs violations as well?

Roman Chelsea

20:31 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Thank you all for your advice. My conveyancer has been pretty thorough he is a local one. There were alarm bells ringing for him too. The suggestion of taking out indemnity insurance was very helpful and reassuring.Do I have to take it out as well or just insist on the vendor doing so? The property was apparently let out prior to refurb but had no fire alarms ! ( I know more alarms ringing,.... or not ,as the case may be!!) As regards the local authority planning permission I will check their website( much quicker), thank you .

John Dace

20:52 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Cant believe how many seem to relish all the hoop jumping and rubbish caused by such an insignificant thing. The real question should be what right do councils have to form 'conservation areas' to the extent that nearly the entire country is covered. We pay conservation teams to rule on plastic windows and pay EPC people to tell us they are the best thing! If the windows have been there 4 years they are ok and dont need permission anyway. Its a scandal how much red tape time and expense is caused by things like this in this country. We should all grow a pair and stand up to councils who love the power we sleepwalked into giving them.

Harlequin Garden

20:59 PM, 2nd February 2016
About 3 years ago

Just the vendor at his cost.

Smokes and C02s are easy enough to install, I wouldn't worry about all that, it's not an HMO and as you are the landlord it's you responsibility anyway.

Just because it's a conservation area it doesn't mean that consent is necessary.

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