Conveyancing in York - Building Regulation issues with a house extension

One of the reasons why Conveyancing Solicitors in York acting for homebuyers carry out local searches is to check planning and building regulation approvals which have been issued for the property. Where it apparent that works have been carried out by the seller, it is vitally important to check that any necessary consents have been obtained.

Local authorities have wide legal powers of enforcement, and can therefore take action if they discover a breach of planning legislation. In addition, works which do not comply with building regulations might be structurally unsafe. Conveyancing Solicitors do not want their clients to be on the wrong end of enforcement action by the council, or find an extension collapsing because it does not have proper foundations, so they take care to check such matters.

In 2010, Conveyancing Solicitor Laura Gill was acting for the buyers of a freehold house in Westminster Road, York YO30. Details of the agreed terms were received from the sellers agents, Ashtons of 1 Bootham, York YO30 7BN.

The local search was carried out with the City of York Council, and the replies contained the following entry in the register of planning applications:

‘03/039/33/FUL Erection of pitched roof single storey side extension - Approved on Conditions’

The search also showed that the house was in an area of archaeological Importance, and there was a tree preservation order which covered the property.

Laura had received the draft contract and copy of the land registry title from the sellers’ Conveyancing Solicitors, Hethertons of Northern House, 9 Rougier Street, York YO1 6HZ. Although the Solicitors had sent their clients’ replies to a standard property information form, Laura had to raise a number of further questions. She had noted that the sellers had confirmed that they property extension had been completed, but there was no record of the works having been approved under building regulations. She therefore asked for a copy of any completion certificate to be provided.

With the replies from the sellers, they sent a copy of a letter from the building control department of the City of York council, from which it appeared that they had seen the building plans, but had not issued a final certificate. The sellers therefore contacted the Council, and it was discovered that although the extension had been inspected at some time during its construction, a final inspection did not seem to have been carried out.

Arrangements were made for a further inspection to be done, but there was some delay before a building inspector could arrange an appointment.   Fortunately, once the inspection was completed the council was able to issue the necessary certificate, and a copy was sent to Laura. Although this caused some delay to the Conveyancing, the buyer was advised that it would be required when she sold the house, and it was clearly better for the certificate to be obtained by the sellers who had built the extension.

Tree preservation orders are frequently registered against properties, but as they often cover more than one house they may not always be relevant. Trees which are included in the TPO cannot be felled or lopped without the consent of the local council, and there are penalties for carrying out unauthorised works. The sellers’ Conveyancing Solicitors obtained a copy of the TPO from the council, and it appeared that there was a tree which was affected, so the client was informed accordingly.

Once the building regulation completion certificate had been resolved, Laura was able to prepare a full report on title to her client, and ask the client to sign the contract and other documents required on completion of the purchase. The client did so, and once the completion date had been agreed with all parties in the associated chain of transactions, Laura was able to exchange contracts.

Completion took place on the agreed date without any hiccups, and the sellers’ Solicitors sent Laura the completed Transfer deed together with other documents including the original building regulation completion certificate. Fridaysmove wishes to thank  Hethertons for the prompt assistance in resolving this issue of missing approval documents when Conveyancing in York.

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