Opinions and Advice sought please - planning(ish)

Am (correction, was) in the middle of buying a house. It’s a re-developed farmhouse, over 200 years old, nice site, nice cut-stone sheds etc. Agreed a price subject to survey, but after initial survey I became suspicious of the evasiveness of the vendor and EA when it came to some specifics. Long story short, he converted attic space into a new floor and added 5 dormer windows, all without Planning Permission, having lied to us repeatedly saying he was merely replacing what had been there before. Just found out this afternoon and am hopping mad, but have decided not to actually physically harm anybody until I’ve had the weekend to think about it.

I am informed by an LA Planner friend that there is a kind of Statute of Limitations on Planning matters, i.e., if the LA doesnt cop, or doesnt say anything, for 5(?) years, then effectively the development is exempt. Part of me want to re-negotiate on price (re-negotiate like Chuck Norris would re-negotiate) and take the risk, but the other part of me wants to rat this guy out to the LA, make him get Planning, instead of let some un-Pin-educated buyer get caught by the proverbials.

Advice and opinions please.

Get on your high horse and play serious hard ball. Offer them a seriously revised offer based on the new information factoring in what a worse case scenario will mean to you. Try to come to an agreement swaying on your side. If no agreement can be reached then shop him


mean feckers around here :laughing:

its what CC is looking to hear. He just wants some moral support

Problem is if you negotiate too hard… after the sale He could rat **you **out!!!

You’ll have to see what the maximum potential downside of the lack of planning permission is, taking legal advice would be wise.

I bet you were glad now of being so suspicious.

Being ratted out by the seller after serious negotiation has crossed my mind. I dont think I can go down that route. When I’m calm I think that the best thing to do is simply make a completely revised offer, current selling price less 10% (min) AND shop him to the LA, making the sale price conditional on retention being granted.


The legal advice is not to touch the place with a bargepole, but that’s because our solr is a friend who is sqeuaky clean.

I’m very glad of being such a suspicious soul - and I have the PIN to thank for a lot of it. I’ve been reading stuff here since the start, contributing just the odd time, but it’s informed my judgement brilliantly and given me an extremely critical eye when it comes to property and property dealings.

I’m also thinking of making a complaint about the EA, not because i think it will do anything, it might just make me feel better.

Actually, when my merciless side holds sway (I’m kinda jumping between emotions right now) what I’m REALLY tempted to do is buy ad space in the local paper and advertise the fact that he doesnt have Planning Permission in large print.

at the very least you should insist the seller gets retrospective planning permission before you proceed. that means they have to prepare drawings. have your own engineer look over the drawings & the house again.

i get worried when you say “redevelop” a 200 year old farmhouse. that’s not an easy thing to do right. if the seller is not concerned about little details like PP there may be other problems with the house.

If there’s no planning permission for an attic conversion it’s almost certain that your solicitor won’t be able to certify good title and consequently you won’t be able to get a mortgage.

I’d want to see retention permission sought and obtained before I bought. You could enter into a contract conditional on retention pp being obtained within a certain period - though this will obviously expose you to the risk of further falls within that period.

The limit on enforcement by the local authority is 7 rather than 5 years since 2002. However even if you fall outside that period you’re not in the clear. The development remains unauthorised - though the local authority cannot proceed against it. It doesn’t become authorised after the period expires and the lapse of time is not a get out of jail free clause.

:laughing: :laughing:

YES!!! DO IT !!!

€50 to a charity of your choice if you do it!!!

I think your best bet is to get him to apply for retention.

If he won’t do that, get a builder friend to quote for making the place in line with planning, including making the roof look nice (i.e. not just some new slates slapped where the dormers were).

IIRC, it’s 7 or 12 years for fait accompli permission and that exemption may only apply to work before a certain date. Anyway, you’d be astonished at the number of lean-to sheds that are in the local papers with applications for retention on them. The planners use this as a means of drumming up business when things are quiet!

Okay, didnt know that, didnt think about it that way, you’re right of course. Thanks. Only becomes an issue should we ever decide to sell though, right? If we could live with it, then it isnt a problem? Or are there other issues? I’m thinking that worst case, unauthorised development wouldnt be covered by insurance in the event of a fire, for instance?

Your solicitor will be looking for good title from the vendor’s solicitor and this includes matters to do with alterations that have planning permission implications.

I had a case recently where a couple having agreed the sale of their house had to go back and get planning retention on an attice conversion
to close the sale as when the purchaser’s solicitor sent out an engineer to inspect that all was in order the issue of non compliance with the planning regs was discovered.

Get an engineer on board to clarify all matters and then start giving grief!

If you need a mortgage your solicitor must certify to the bank that they are getting a good marketable title as security for their loan. In this case, the planning problem means that they can’t do this - hence no mortgage. If you were buying with no mortgage you’d be free to buy if you wished - not that it would be particularly wise to sink quite a bit of money into a potentially unsaleable asset.

I had a vaguely similar experience a while back with renting a commercial space.

Basically, the unit had no planning permission and the LL was looking to rent it on the QT, not that he mentioned that at the time. As we needed planning for what we were doing, we applied to the council to see what the story was.

It turned out that there was no planning permission and any units that were being let were being done so illegally. I confronted the LL about this and the conversation turned pretty nasty, his implication was that I’d no business looking into the planning situation.

So my advice would be to tread carefully if you are going to confront the situation, the seller may well refuse to do business if he thinks that he’ll fall afoul of the LA, so it might be worth advising the seller that you are going to have to check with the local authority before you can proceed. If he has any sense, he’ll see that you’re only looking out for your own interest in what is one of the biggest financial transactions of your life. His reaction to that should give you all you need to know about where he stands.

Invariably, attic conversions done without PP do not pass the fire regs. They did not seek (or were not awarded) PP for a reason. It may very well have been because they were doing it on the cheap. Hence, there may be no fire doors, minimum widths for connecting corridors, fire escape, etc.

Insulation issues in a roof space are another ticking timebomb too. To retrofit it now would likely be an almighty task, what with Veluxes etc.

Ok, the pciture is slowly getting clearer. He wont be able to sell the house to anyone (and transfer good title) until he gets his retention; but he may try, and there are an awful lot of buyers out there who do not have the breadth and depth of knowledge that I can call on (excellent solicitor, excellent planner, excellent PIN comrades). The only reason we were able to find this out at all was because of sheer bloody ignorance and persistence; my solicitor said that the only way she could know, in another case, there was a problem was if somebody was equally persistent. The seller was LYING to us. He said, repeatedly, that all the works he did were to replace existing structures etc. I just didnt believe him, but another buyer might.

And the reason I’m so thick about the EA is that I am convinced, totally convinced, that the EA knew, but was trying to fob us off.

Just to avoid any doubt, this isn’t what I said. There are a variety of statutory indirect sanctions for unauthorised developments, even once the seven year period expires, in relation to e.g. reconstruction if the property is destroyed, compensation in certain circumstances, etc… One curious one is that an unauthorised house does not have a right to a water supply (section 259).