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Last year our Commercial Property Associate, Melanie Roberts acted for purchasers who had offered on a three bed bungalow. During the due diligence it became quickly apparent that the property had no planning permission or building regulations for its loft conversion.

 

The Seller was unprepared to apply retrospectively to the local council for legal consents required and unfortunately the work had been completed within the last twelve months so insurance against the defect was unobtainable and unaffordable. The Purchasers Surveyor had suggested a £40k reduction in the purchase price as a consequence.  My clients decided to withdraw from the transaction and were advised to complain to the Property Ombudsmen but they eventually found another property which went through smoothly!

 

The bungalow was still on the market 6 months later and was then taken off. This demonstrated that that preparation could have helped the sellers, agents and buyers along with saving costs.

Tips for Buyers:

 

  • Obtain a surveyors report, especially where alterations or extensions have been made to the property. The surveyor will be able to provide advice on the workmanship, age of the works, quality of materials used and whether it would pass current building regulations compliance.

 

  • Check the planning portal online to see whether any planning application has been made. Download the associated plans and ensure that your surveyor is made aware. If there is no planning permission recorded let your surveyor and solicitor know.

 

  • Obtain legal advice from your solicitor in advance where possible. Talk through your concerns with them. If you are purchasing with a mortgage any missing consents could affect the valuation of the property and may need to be reported to the lenders. There are solutions available including insurance but this will need to be considered carefully and most insurance rely on no direct contact with the local authority. The Solicitor will be able to provide pros and cons along with any foreseen timescales.

 

Tips for Sellers:

 

  • Any alterations or extensions on properties may need consent and building regulations.   Go back to your original contractors that completed the work to see whether this was applied for at the time.

 

  • Have you checked your title deeds? In some titles there are restrictive covenants that prevent the current owner from altering or extending the property without obtaining consent from a third party.   Your Solicitor will be able to guide you as to whether insurance or obtaining the consent would be appropriate in your circumstanes.

 

  • If you did not complete the work yourself there are still solutions available to you. Discuss these with your solicitor who will advise depending on when the work was completed.

 

  • Provide copies all consents to your agent and solicitor and ensure that the buyers can inspect these as early as possible.

 

 

For further information or advice on Residential or Commercial Property, please contact Melanie Roberts on 01256 305531 or email melanie.roberts@lambbrooks.com

 

 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.