Can you sell your home if it lacks planning permission?

Last updated: December 2020 | 3 min read

If you have been living in a property long, the chances are that you may have made some alteration and improvements to the property. For some alterations and modifications, you need something called planning permission.

If you are selling your home that needs planning permission because you made some alterations or improvement to the property over the years, chances of a quick sale are slim to none. Aside from that, homes which lack planning permission is also un-mortgageable. 

What are permitted developments?

Improvements which are classified as permitted development (PD) do not require you to make an application for permission and obtain consent. PD are works which technically require planning permission but for which planning permission is deemed to have been granted under a general permitted development order.

Which improvements are classified as PD?

Extension to the side or rear of your home can be classified as PD, provided that it is less in volume than 15% of the size of your home. For terraced houses, the permitted extension size is less than 10% of the size of the house.

 However, you should note that a PD may still need building regulations approval.

Which improvements or extensions require planning permission?

The law is set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as amended by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(Amendment) (No.2) (England) Order 2008.

If the extension takes up more than 50% of your garden or it is higher than the original roof, or if it takes up a volume greater than 115 cubic metres, then planning permission must have been applied for.

If you want to make extensions, you should also check the permitted depth of extensions and their distance from the property's boundary.

How saleable is my home if it lacks planning permission?

Suppose you have carried out works on your home or have extended the property without obtaining planning permission or building regulations consent. In that case, it will deter prospective buyers since the authorities have the right to pursue legal action against the property owner for not obtaining planning permission.

What if you made an extension more than 4 years ago?

Suppose you made an extension to your property and it was completed more than 4 years ago and during this period the local authority did not take any action against you. In that case, the local authority may have lost its right to take any enforcement action. It will be the same case for the person who buys your home.

What you need to do before you put your home on the market for sale

  • It would help if you make a list of all the alteration you have made to the property, or were created previously. You should detail their dimensions and compare them against the original size of your home. This will form the PD.
  • You can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate from the Planning Portal online application service. Through this, you can be confident that the property's existing use is lawful and that any proposal you have does not require planning permission. It is usually charged against a fee.
  • Get your completion certificates and Building Regulations approval handy to show to your potential buyers.

What are the solutions if your home does not have planning permission?

Indemnity Insurance

You can take out an indemnity insurance policy. It will provide cover against the risk of the local authority taking enforcement action against you. For a one-off payment, you and the future owners will be covered against risks of legal action.

Although, you need to confirm that the work was completed more than 12 months ago and that the property was being used as a residence for those 12 months.

If the local authority has ever been approached regarding lack of planning permission, you cannot take out an indemnity insurance policy. Once the policy is in place, you cannot contact the local authority and inform them of the lack of planning permission. It would invalidate the policy.

Retrospective planning permission

If the extension lacks planning permission and has been completed in the last four years, you could make an application for retrospective planning permission. Provided the work conforms to the rules, you will be granted a retrospective planning permission certificate against a fee. It can also take up to 8 weeks for the application to be processed.

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