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James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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Hi there, My property has been lived in for more than 6

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Hi there,

My property has been lived in for more than 6 years. It was originally a workshop/store room belonging to the flat next door before the properties were separated. It does not appear that a planning application for change of use has been made. All sources I have found, including planning legislation and many other planning authorities, state that with change of use of any building to a single dwelling house, and with continual use, enforcement action cannot be taken after a period of 4 years beginning with the date of the breach.

I am looking for a legal body to either prove of disprove my findings, and hopefully to say that, yes, my property is immune from enforcement action.

I'm unsure as to the form in which your answer with come in, but ideally I would like to have something that can be printed, and then shown to others, i.e. potential buyers and estate agents, as a document from a legal body.

Any information you have will be appreciated.

Thank you
Are you selling?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes it is on the market and the planning issue was brought up by a buyers solicitor.


Good Service (Sorry, wasn't sure where to rate)

have not answered your question yet, but you will see little :-) box now which
allows you to formally rate my service.

enforcement period for all change of use is 10 years. Apart from change of use
to a single dwelling which is four years.

planning breaches is four years. ange%20of%20use&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC8QFjAA&,d.d2k

you need to do is prove exactly how long you have lived in it as a residential
dwelling for. However, the buyer will usually insist on an indemnity policy to
insure against enforcement by the Council in respect of breaches of building
regulations for which the enforcement period is only 12 months or breaches of
planning consent.

of these may be out of time for enforcement, but the insurance pays out in the
event of an argument with the Council. It is not expensive and the price
depends on the value of the property, but expect to pay about £150. All
conveyancing solicitors have this on a block policy, they simply fill the form
in and send it off with the money. Your solicitor should be well versed in
dealing with this. If he hasn't got a clue what I'm talking about. I would
start to worry!

bear with me today because I will be online and off-line

Can I help further?

The next
part is really important for me:

don't forget to positively rate my answer service (even if it was not what you
wanted to hear) and I will follow up any further points you raise for free. If
you don't rate it positively, then the site keep your deposit and I get 0 for
my time. If in ratings you feel that you expected more or it only helped a
little, please ask me for further info before rating me negatively otherwise I
don't get paid at all for my time and answer.

The thread remains open. Thanks

James Mather and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes, Planning Portal is just one of the many sources that seem to back me up. What I really need is a basic document from a legal body, i.e. You, stating this time limit, and therefore illustrating my immunity from enforcement action.


I can prove at least 6 years continual use. I am also aware of an indemnity policy, as well as a certificate of lawful use. But an indemnity policy suggests uncertainty, and the certificate is simply an unnecessary expense that basically only supports what is already law, or at least legislation.


A document written by a legal body would provide security to my buyers, and me, while also potentially eliminating the need for indemnity insurance.


Is this something you can help with?


Thank you

be frank, it wouldn't matter what legislation you come up with and what section
of what act. It is hidden in the planning legislation. Regardless, and even if
you quote the exact section and subsection of each act, a prudent solicitor
will insist on insurer and is regardless. Of course, you can take a hard line
and simply refuse to pay it and it would then be for the buyer to either take
the risk, or pay themselves.

buyer's solicitors and indeed all solicitors know exactly what the enforcement
periods are , so simply quoting a section under clause at them will not make them
change their mind.

if you want to quote the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 s171(B),

may capitulate. Certainly, no one in my firm would capitulate and we would
still insist on indemnity insurance

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I have always said that I would be happy to get indemnity insurance, the only reason I'm even going down this route is because a buyer that is currently in the picture was not 100% satisfied with the insurance aspect. I then looked into it myself and discovered the fact that I am immune from enforcement action anyway. Upon presenting this information to Cooper and Tanner, my estate agent, they said that I would need to get my solicitor to support this and convey it to the buyer / buyers solicitor. When I did this I was told by my solicitor that I was incorrect, which means he would not support me.


This is why I am in need of a supporting legal document of some kind, although now I am slowly realising that this might not be possible without spending more money by bringing in a more local solicitor into the picture.


I hope you can see my dilemma and why I am now seeking further assistance.


I really appreciate your help and time, only I am afraid to say that I am no further along than I was at the start of the day.

You now know the exact section and the exact act.

Ask your solicitor to tell you, if what you are saying is incorrect, what is correct and where he gets that info from. Or use another solicitor!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I'm a little bit tied to him at the moment and would end up costing me more to change completely. I am sorry but I already knew the exact acts and locations. This is the information I had printed and taken to the estate agents. I even highlighted the relevant sections within the acts but somehow this wasn't enough.


Although you have agreed with me, I am no more enlightened and have progressed no further than I had before. I am greatly appreciative of your assistance, it's just it hasn't provided me with the outcome I was looking for.


I would be happy to donate £10 towards your time, but I cannot afford £33 to not make any progress. I hope that you understand


Let me know how you feel about this



I don't deal with the money, I only answer questions. You appear to have paid a deposit of about 25 quid unless you have signed up for a monthly subscription.

That £25 is split 50-50 with me and the site.

I think that what you are looking for and what the buyer is looking for does not exist .

here I am,property solicitor telling you. Your own research, says the same.

The act of Parliament, says the same.

All the solicitor needs to do is ring the local authority.

It seems that whatever you come up with in writing , by a solicitor will not accept it .

This is almost like, you will come up with the act of Parliament and they are saying that they don't care what the act of Parliament says, they do not believe it !

I would probably start to look for another buyer if neither you nor the buyer want to pay for the indemnity premium .

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Ok, thank you for your time. I am happy for you to get paid but the site shouldn't as they seem to guarantee satisfaction. I'll take it up with them. Don't worry, I won't jeopardise your payment if it comes to it. Hopefully they'll just knock a bit off their end.



If they dont get paid I dont!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

It's all sorted. they refunded part of the total and assured me that the rest would go to you.

Thank you. I appreciate your concern.

I do hope that you get it sorted.
Kind regards