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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10458
Experience:  LLB(HONS) 23 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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Hi, if you have made structural changes to a property over

Customer Question

Hi, if you have made structural changes to a property over 14 years ago which has no planning permission or building regulations sign off, does this automatically become legal after a certain period?
Property - Flat - Leasehold.
Type of change: Covert cellar into a room
Change made: raised ceiling of cellar - the living room floor was raised
Studio flat now a one bedroom
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.
I am Al and am happy to assist you with your enquiry.
You would not have required planning permission for this work, but you should have obtained Building Regulations approval and possibly Freeholder's consent (under the terms of your Lease).
For Building Regulations purposes, no time limit makes it "legal" but Councils are only entitled to take enforcement action for a breach of Building Regulations if the work was carried out within the last 12 months.
The only issue you will have is that as and when you sell, the Buyers Solicitors will ask to see the Building Regs for the work. As you won't be able to provide this, it would be normal for you to pay for a Building Regulations indemnity policy, which basically acts like an insurance policy for your Buyer. This policy would be a one off payment of between £50-£150 depending on the value of the property.
As regards ***** ***** if this should have been obtained, this may cause an issue when you sell, in that the Buyers Solicitor will want to see this. Provided the work was done over 20 years ago, then you are in the clear, in that any Freeholder is not entitled to take action against you after this time limit. You therefore have 6 years to wait!
I hope this answers your question and sets out the legal position to you.
Kind Regards
AL
Aston Lawyer and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

ForCustomer

Thank you very much. This has been great, useful advice. I hope you don't mind a few follow up questions relating to this.

1. As the additional room does not have windows, I believe it is not deemed as 'habitable' therefore (when put up for sale) will be advertised as a studio flat rather than a one bedroom. Will the buyers solicitor definitely ask for Building Regs for the work done even though it is still classed as a studio flat?

2. If it is a requirement before the sale is completed, should one obtain the Building Regulations indemnity policy before request is made from buyers solicitor?

3. Do I have an obligation to tell my solicitor about the change i.e. does it need to be declared?

4. Freeholders consent - how would I know if this should have been obtained?

Thank you.

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hi Rosalind,
As you have paid a nominal amount, I would normally ask you to post this as a new question, but am happy to help this time-
1/3- when you sell,there is a standard Property Information Form you will need to complete and one of the questions is "have you carried out any alterations to the property"? You will, therefore, be under a duty to disclose the alterations. I would have thought that any Surveyor employed by your Buyer would spot these alterations anyway.
2. There is little point paying for an indemnity policy at this stage-I suggest you delay until you sell.
4.Unless you approached the Freeholder at the time the work was done, to request consent, no consent would have been obtained.
I hope this helps you.
Kind Regards
AL

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