How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Alex J. Your Own Question
Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3844
Experience:  Two years conveyancing experience.
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
Alex J. is online now

Background: my property in Londons title deeds state that

This answer was rated:

Background: my property in London's title deeds state that it is a single property. Because I had it converted into two flats some years ago (but I now occupy all of it again) the local council is charging me a vacant property surcharge - even though the title deeds still designate the property as a single property.

Question: will the title deeds designation of single property take precedence over the local council's designation of two separate flats if I take an appeal to the High Court?

Thank you for your question and welcome.

My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.

The issue is not what is on the title. You can have a freehold title and the property divided into two liveable spaces.

The issue is the Planning Permission. If you converted it into two residences, you will need permission from the council to convert it back into a single dwelling house. The legislation for this is the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Did you obtain planning permission in the first instance?

Kind regards

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi AJ,


Yes, I did obtain planning permission to convert it into two flats. I have not reconverted it back, as this would necessitate spending tens of thousands of pounds in reconversion costs to satisfy Building Regulations.


Thank you.

I am afraid they will continue to charge you.

There would be little point in taking the council to court for them to then find out you do not comply with building regulations and serve you with an enforcement notice.

As it stands after 10 years if they would not be able to take action anyway for the breach of planning permission.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I do not think you will be successful in a claim here.

Kind regards


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi again, AJ,


I'm afraid this sentence in your reply is unclear:

'As it stands after 10 years if they would not be able to take action anyway for the breach of planning permission.' Please clarify, as the word 'if' makes it unclear.


Are you saying the only way I can avoid the vacancy surcharge is to have it reregistered under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act?






Thank you.

My apologies the "if" was a typo. Depending on the nature of the planning permission breach councils normally cannot take enforcement action if the breach has subsisted for 10 years.

I am afraid the case is the council will not recognise it as one property until they have consented to it being returned to one dwelling house.

Kind regards

Alex J. and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you