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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 7430
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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I am not sure if this should be posted in legal or property

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I am not sure if this should be posted in legal or property law.
We currently live in a converted barn. We moved in during the summer of 2004 although without planning permission.
Please can you advise:
Would it be easier to apply for retrospective planning permission or wait 3 years and apply for cert of lawful use?
If we wait and go for the certificate what is the most successful form of proof of use?
Would it affect the certificate if I need to move to a different part of the country and let the property during this period of time?

So, you believe that the barn only has permission to be used as a barn and not a residential property, correct?


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Did you buy it as a residential property?

If so, what did your solicitor say about the lack of planning permission and why the existing owners had not applied for it?

Or did you convert it yourselves?

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

It was "given" to me in 2002 by my mum who owns the farm.

We have converted it ourselves with help of local builders from cowshed to house.

It looks as though I need to move away for a while for work.






Thanks for your reply.

In the circumstances I would suggest that it is probably better to wait until such time as you fulfil the requisite time to apply for a Certificate of Lawfullness for the works. If the local authority have not spotted the work for 7 years then they are reasonably unlikely to spot it now and take enforcement action, but that’s not to say they won’t be difficult and try and get you to enter a s106 agreement if you make the application for retrospective planning permission now. S106 agreements are, in my opinion, a necessary form of legal bribery afforded to the local authorities.

As long as there are a number of people, you and family included but also ideally some others who are not connected to you (eg. Neighbours) who would be prepared to swear to the fact that the breach of planning has been in effect for 10 years then your moving out would not prejudice that. I would ask the tenants to swear a stat dec at the end of their tenancy to swear to residential use during their period of occupation and this should cover you for the purpose of applying for a certificate of lawfulness once you have reached the 10 year time requirement.

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I will answer your follow up questions you may have.

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks Tom.

That is very useful.

A couple of last questions to clarify:

Would it make any difference to the certificate of lawfulness if it was let for holiday lets or long term residential? Would it make any difference if there were periods of time that it was not used (does the cert require continuous habitation and if so what dodes that mean?) Also, the paperwork was not completed on the transfer of the property and it has been suggested that an affadavit that the property was transfered to me in 2002 would be enough for a solicitor to draw up the deeds. Would organising this now affect the cert in any way, or would it be advisable under the circumstances to wait for the 10 years to have elapsed before arranging the transfer?


The local authority would not receive notice of the transfer of ownership once registered at the LR, they are separate entitites.

Holiday lets are a different form of Use Class under planning legislation so you should ensure that it remains as residential use only.

Ideally, there would be no gaps in occupation for residential purposes but small gaps would probably not prejudice the application for a certificate.

Trust this clarifies, please click accept.

Kind regards,

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