The new year can be a great time to spruce up your property. Many owners will look to carry out alterations, be it minor works or major alterations but before rolling up your sleeves or instructing a builder it is important that you consider what permissions you may need.
Types of Permission
You may need planning permission for major alterations. Planning permissions are granted by a local authority and may be required for works such as substantial extensions, building new structures and changing the use of the property. You may also require building regulations approval. This will apply to a wider range of works including loft alterations, new window installations, doors and other similar works. Building regulations consent is granted by your local authority.
If your property is a leasehold property, your lease may include a provision which prevents you from carrying out alterations without your landlord’s consent. This is because any alterations which you make to the property are likely to affect the landlord’s freehold interest. Ultimately the contents of your lease will dictate whether you will require your landlord’s consent or not. Ordinarily a lease will provide that your landlord is not to unreasonably withhold consent in such circumstances.
Property Alterations without Planning Permission
If you fail to obtain the correct planning permission (where required) or if you fail to comply with the conditions of a granted permission, you could be deemed to have committed a planning breach. If you fail to make an application at all, the local authority may allow you to make a retrospective application to regularise the position. However, if your planning application had failed and you continued with the work, you could be issued with an Enforcement Notice which requires you to put the property back into the same position as it was prior to the permission being granted. Failure to comply with such a Notice is an offence and property owners can face steep fines in these instances.
Property Alterations without Building Regulations Approval
Where the property owner fails to seek building regulations approval for works carried out, an Enforcement Notice can be served. The local authority could also apply for an injunction. You could face prosecution in the Magistrates Court if you don’t regularise the position and you could be held liable for an unlimited fine.
Property Alterations without the consent of your Landlord
If your lease requires that you seek the landlord’s consent for altering your property and you either a) don’t seek consent or b) go ahead without consent, you are likely to be in breach of your lease. Your landlord could seek to apply to court for an injunction preventing you from carrying out the works as well as seeking damages and costs from you. Alternatively, the landlord may seek to forfeit the lease whereby your lease would be terminated, and this could cause significant difficulties to a property owner with a long leasehold property.
Other Points to Note
Property alterations without the consent of your landlord or with Planning/Building Regulation breaches can affect:
a. Your ability to sell the property in future;
b. Your mortgage;
c. The relationship with your neighbours.
Planning and lease disputes can inevitably be costly and are best avoided. We would advise that you always seek specialist advice prior to carrying out any alterations and ensure that all consents and permissions required are obtained before commencing any works and if you are unsure whether your lease requires specific steps to be taken then we urge you to seek legal advice.
If you are concerned about the above, you can call our Property Disputes Team on
0113 244 9931.