Posts with tag: planning permission

A Landlord’s Guide to Turning a House into Flats

Published On: June 26, 2016 at 8:35 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Converting a house into flats is becoming increasingly popular with landlords, who can maximise their rental returns and capital growth through dividing larger properties into smaller units.

If you decide to rent out smaller flats rather than one large home, you will maximise your rental income in the short-term and increase your profit on sale in the long-term.

So where do you start?

London estate agent Portico has put together a guide on everything that landlords need to know when converting a house into flats:

Research the market  

Before you even plan a conversion project, you must make sure that there is high demand for flats in the area that you’re considering.

A Landlord's Guide to Turning a House into Flats

A Landlord’s Guide to Turning a House into Flats

Researching the current market is the best way to determine whether there is strong tenant demand for the type of property that you will create. Look at supply levels in your target market and identify the type of tenant that will be looking for your property type.

If the area is popular with young professionals or couples, then you know that they will generally be looking for smaller homes. If you find that families are seeking rental properties in the location you choose, conversion does not seem like a sensible option.

Planning implications 

Once you have found the right market for you and have looked into purchasing a buy-to-let property, the next thing to do is contact the planning department of your local council, as you are likely to need planning permission.

If you are given the go ahead by the council, you will then need to apply for building regulations before you start the conversion project.


The cost of converting will vary hugely from property to property, depending on the size, condition and the number of flats you’re creating. Portico expects a basic conversation, including putting up walls, installing bathrooms and central heating units, to cost around £25,000. You will then need to talk to utility providers so that each address has its own gas, electricity and water meters.

You must consider the following when budgeting for the project:

  • Planning approval from the local planning department.
  • Building regulation approval.
  • Installing new utility meters.
  • Fitting a new kitchen and bathroom.
  • Finance for development.
  • Sound deadening and tests.
  • Separate boilers.
  • Separate heating systems.
  • Creating a second entrance.
  • Decorating costs.


Portico advises investors to shop around for the best mortgage rates and loans before undertaking a conversion project, as this will be where your profit margin is made.

To ensure that your buy-to-let investment is protected during refurbishment work, put a comprehensive Unoccupied Property Insurance policy in place before you have tenants in place.


Make sure that you inform the solicitor dealing with the legal transaction of your plans to convert, and ask them to identify any legal barriers to you doing so once the sale is complete, for example, caveats in the deeds.

Your solicitor will also be able to draw up leases for separate dwellings, which you will need if you plan on selling the properties.

Good luck with your conversion project!

New Planning Rules Enforced on Landlords in Brighton

Published On: March 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm


Categories: Landlord News

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Brighton & Hove City Council has asked letting agents in its area to inform landlords of additional planning powers enforced by the local authority, which could prohibit them from renting out certain properties.

The measure follows the case of a landlord of a property near Fiveways in Brighton, who is no longer allowed to rent out the home as a shared house.

New Planning Rules Enforced on Landlords in Brighton

New Planning Rules Enforced on Landlords in Brighton

Last year, the council served a planning enforcement notice on the property on the grounds that there were already many shared houses in the immediate area.

The landlord continued to rent out the property, despite not having the necessary planning permission, while appealing against the enforcement notice to the Government’s planning inspectorate.

In February, the landlord’s appeal was dismissed, meaning that it will be an offence for them to continue renting out the property as a shared house.

Until recently, the home was still being advertised to prospective tenants, but these advertisements have now been removed.

Back in April 2013, Brighton & Hove City Council introduced additional planning controls for any landlords in Brighton looking to set up small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) within five electoral wards in the area.

The rules require landlords wishing to rent out HMOs to gain planning permission from the council, as well as a HMO license. The controls apply to any property being occupied by three to six unrelated individuals.

Planning permission is always required for more than six unrelated individuals occupying an HMO in the city.

The council has recently advised letting agents of their duty to provide tenants with material information about whether rental properties in Brighton have planning permission.

If you are a landlord in Brighton, you must be aware of these rules.

Landlord Ordered to Pay £200,000 over Illegal Properties

Published On: November 16, 2015 at 11:23 am


Categories: Landlord News

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A landlord has been ordered to pay more than £200,000 for converting two properties into poor quality flats without planning permission and dismissing enforcement notices requiring him to restore the properties to their original form.

Landlord Ordered to Pay £200,000 over Illegal Properties

Landlord Ordered to Pay £200,000 over Illegal Propertiesproperties to their original form

Brent Council brought the case against Vijay Kara at Harrow Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty.

One of the properties was located within an industrial estate.

Kara was issued a confiscation order of £187,600 for both properties, fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

A confiscation order is designed to remove any profit from crime, by making the convicted defendant to pay a sum of money that represents the benefits of the crime to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Councillor Margaret McLennan, Lead Member for Housing and Development at Brent Council, comments on the case: “It’s staggering that Mr. Kara thought that he could get away with letting out illegal, substandard accommodation, despite a conviction for the same offence in 2009.

“Thanks to our hard working enforcement team, he has been caught out again and landed with a hefty bill.

“It is so important for planning rules to be upheld, not just to protect what our streets look like, but to protect tenants from poor standard accommodation.”1 

In a separate case, a landlord was told to sell property that he owns in London to settle his costs at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

Nadeem Hussain, 44, of Sheffield, was fined £16,237, including costs, for not ensuring his tenants’ safety or effectively managing three homes in Nottingham.

He pleaded guilty to five offences under the Housing Act 2004 and management regulations, including failing to ensure that fire detection and alarm systems were working.


Affordable Housing Planning Policy Cancelled

A Government planning policy that could have allowed luxury London landlords to escape over £1 billion a year in affordable housing payments has been cancelled.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis revealed the vacant building credit at the end of 2014, but councils soon experienced chronic housing shortages.

The credit allowed developers that were planning to convert vacant office buildings into flats to pay only an affordable housing contribution on new space created. Before its introduction, developers paid according to the size of the whole building.

Westminster Council voiced its concerns in January, stating that it could lose £1 billion a year from its affordable housing fund and called the credit “insane”.

On Abu Dhabi Investment Council and Finchatton’s project to redevelop the former US Navy HQ in Mayfair, the Council said that its affordable housing payment fell from £17.6m to just £8.6m.

Affordable Housing Planning Policy Cancelled

Affordable Housing Planning Policy Cancelled

A legal battle by West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council has resulted in a judge ruling that part of the policy was incompatible with the legal structure for planning.

Head of Planning at law firm Mishcon de Reya, Daniel Farrand, says: “This means that councils will be able to once again levy affordable housing requirements on developments in accordance with their own local plan policies.”1 

Brandon Lewis initially launched the plans to boost house building and put vacant properties back into use.

Some raised concerns that developers could kick tenants out of offices to convert them into flats and others would resubmit plans already granted permission to take advantage of the lower affordable housing bill.

The decision to cancel the policy was welcomed by numerous politicians and groups.

Labour Mayor of London candidate, Tessa Jowell, says: “The vacant building credit has done untold damage to London and has now rightly been quashed by the courts.

“This Tory scheme delivered developers a loophole to avoid providing any affordable housing – just when our city needs it most.”1

A Generation Rent spokesperson adds: “This loophole absolved them [developers] of any responsibility to make a contribution to wider society and with the economy booming that is completely unjustifiable.”1

Mark Williams, Southwark’s councillor, believes it was “a deeply unjust policy that could have cost thousands of new affordable homes.”

A spokesperson for Labour Built Environment adds: “This court decision is a victory for common sense and will help generate more affordable homes in London.”1

JR Capital manages money from the Middle East for residential property investors. It says it does not believe the removal of the credit will stop developers investing in London.

The Department for Communities and Local Government says it is “disappointed by the outcome” and will seek permission to appeal against the judge’s decision.

It explains: “We’ve got Britain building and we’re determined to maintain this momentum, including by reducing the red tape and extra costs that prevent smaller developments from getting built.”1

The British Property Federation thinks that affordable housing payments should be set at a local level, rather than by the central government.


Homeowners Must Know Their Neighbour Rights

One in three homeowners in Britain have argued with a neighbour after they made changes to their property without consulting them.

New research has discovered that homeowners do not understand their rights regarding objecting unwanted development of their neighbours’ house, causing thousands of disagreements every year.

The most common issues that neighbours bicker about are removing or repairing fences at 37%, boundary disputes at 33%, chopping down trees at 30% and building an extension at 18%.

10% have also argued with their neighbours about painting the outside of their property, similar to Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring from Kensington, London, who painted red stripes on her house, upsetting her neighbours.

Despite 81% stating they are not fully aware of their legal rights to object changes, just under half said they would want to complain to their council and one in ten would want to take legal action if they weren’t consulted about a change to their neighbours’ home.

Property law specialists, Slater and Gordon, conducted the survey of 2,000 homeowners, revealing the confusion surrounding how and when to consult with neighbours over planned changes and what people should do if they oppose changes.

One in ten property owners said they would not consult their neighbour before making a change.

Homeowners Must Know Their Neighbour Rights

Homeowners Must Know Their Neighbour Rights

48% of homeowners are put off confronting their neighbours because of complex property language and over half (54%) said they would not be confident about the legal process involved in challenging their neighbours.

Additionally, 47% of respondents said they would not know who to speak to if they weren’t happy with a change.

Head of Residential Property at Slater and Gordon, Samantha Blackburn, says: “I’m not surprised that so many people don’t know what to do if they are unhappy about changes their neighbours are making to their home.

“It’s always preferable to be able to resolve minor issues, such as replacing a fence or cutting down a tree, informally.

“However, when it comes to major changes to a neighbouring home, or disputes over boundaries, it may be necessary to contact your local authority and in some cases take legal advice.”

The study also found that 19% of homeowners would expect their neighbour to consult with them over a new garden structure, such as a shed, play house or tree house. Three in five expected their neighbour to notify them over plants that grow across the boundary between houses.

Homeowners are extremely concerned about their neighbours’ building plans blocking the light into their homes and gardens, with two thirds saying that their main concern is a neighbour’s extension blocking their light.

Five in eight would expect their neighbour to consult with them over any issue that could affect their boundary, such as a fence.

Furthermore, 43% said they would want to discuss access rights to their property and 40% said the noise and mess of builders causes concern.

Getting along with neighbours is a priority for most people, as 94% said they want a good relationship with the people next door.

However, just a quarter said they would consider their neighbour a friend.

Blackburn continues: “The best way to resolve issues between neighbours is to try to avoid having them in the first place so I always advise my clients to be friendly and respectful towards their neighbours.

“Of course in some cases, such as with fences, overhanging trees, shared gardens or rights of access, homeowners will need to speak to one another about how to rectify certain problems.

“In my experience as a property lawyer, I have found the best way forward in these situations is to keep the channels of communication open. However, if neighbours cannot agree on how to resolve these issues it may be necessary to take legal advice.

“Many homeowners still don’t know much about their rights when it comes to opposing local development or even their neighbours’ plans to add to or alter their homes.”

She urges: “I would advise anyone concerned about any of these issues to contact their local authority in the first instance and ask for advice from a planning perspective.

“Often it’s as simple as lodging your opposition and outlining the reasons for this. It won’t always stop the change, but you can take the opportunity to ask your local authority for further information about what is planned, timescales and whether the change will be discussed at an upcoming council meeting.

“I would also advise that they liaise with their lawyer who should be able to do some research and look at the title to the neighbouring property and see if there is anything in those title documents that means the proposed alteration needed consent from anyone before it took place.”1

The top ten reasons for arguing with a neighbour:

  1. Repair or removal of a fence
  2. Boundary dispute
  3. Chopping down trees or shrubs
  4. An extension or change that would block out light
  5. Access rights to the property
  6. Noisy and/or messy builders
  7. A built structure in the garden
  8. A change that the neighbour makes that could lower the value of your property
  9. Painting the outside of the home
  10. Putting in a new driveway



Government Yet to Announce Office-to-Residential Extension

Government Yet to Announce Office-to-Residential Extension

Government Yet to Announce Office-to-Residential Extension

The Government has not yet made a decision regarding the extension of office-to-residential permitted development rights. The current deadline is May 2016.

It was expected that ministers would make an announcement confirming the extension before the House of Commons recess.

The temporary right allows developers to convert offices into homes without the need to apply for planning permission.

The coalition government introduced these rights in May 2013, for three years. An extension until 2020 has been anticipated.

However, several councils have complained that their office stock is at risk.

Chief Executive of the British Property Federation (BPF), Melanie Leech, comments: “Office-to-residential is a useful tool that in most places, although not necessarily all, can breathe life into under-used buildings and help use space much more productively.

“We are currently working with Government to ensure that any extension is applied in a sensible and proportionate way.”1