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MAKING ALTERATIONS TO YOUR PROPERTY?

Many property owners look to increase the value of their homes by adding extensions or other alterations. However, it is vital that you obtain the relevant permission, approval and/or consent before starting any major works. So what permissions might you need? And what could happen if you carry out alterations without the appropriate consent?

Who needs to give me permission?

Planning permission is granted by your local planning authority and will usually be required for alterations such as substantial extensions, building new structures, and where you are looking at changing the use of a property.

You may also require Building Regulations approval. On top of larger alterations like extensions, this also applies to a wide range of other works including loft extensions and new windows and doors. This approval will be granted by your local authority building control department.

If you own a leasehold property (e.g. a flat), your lease will likely require that you obtain your landlord’s consent before making alterations. This is because if you carry out substantial work to your flat,
it could affect the rest of the building. Your landlord should not withhold this consent unreasonably.

Whether you will require your landlord’s consent will depend upon the terms of your lease. It could cover anything from fitting a new kitchen, to extensions or alterations to the exterior of the property.

Failure to comply with Planning Permission

If you have failed to make a planning application, you will usually be allowed to make a retrospective application.

However, if your planning application had failed and you continued with the work, or if you didn’t comply with the conditions in the permission, you may receive an enforcement notice. This will require you to put the property back as it was, or to carry out works to ensure the property complies with the planning permission terms. Failure to comply is an offence, and you could face a steep fine.

Failure to comply with Building Regulations

The first option available to the building control department is issuing an enforcement notice. Again, this will require you to remove or alter work that does not comply with Building Regulations. An alternative is that you could be prosecuted in the magistrates’ court. This is usually used for deliberate contraventions of Building Regulations. You could receive a hefty fine if convicted.

Breach of lease

Your landlord has various options to remedy your failure to obtain his consent to alter. He could issue proceedings at court for an injunction, requiring you to stop the works and reinstate the property. He may also make a claim for damages. Alternatively, your landlord may start forfeiture proceedings, where the court could order that your lease is terminated, and you lose your interest in the property.

It is important to note that unauthorised alterations, planning breaches etc may
also affect your ability to sell your property in the future, and could also be a breach of your mortgage terms.

To make sure that you are protected against potentially costly disputes, we would always recommend you seek specialist advice before carrying out alterations, and make sure that all consents and permissions are obtained before starting work.

If you require legal advice, call Levi Solicitors on
0113 2449931 or visit www.levisolicitors.co.uk

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