How to deal with substandard building work

1st September 2017
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There is nothing worse than buying a rental property only to find a few months down the line that you have inherited some dodgy building work.

If your property is a new-build, get an independent new build inspection company such as brickkickers.co.uk to do a thorough snagging report for you.

For other properties, be aware that any significant building work requires consent under the Building Regulations. However, to cut corners, work is often done without it and sadly such issues do not always come to light during the conveyancing process. The new owners are entirely innocent but unfortunately it is still their problem, unless their solicitor can persuade the vendor that they should have pointed it out.

Is it really a problem?

Work done without consent, and unchecked by building inspectors, is often substandard. Also, if the local authority becomes aware of it, it can issue an enforcement notice requiring the offending work to be rectified. This is inconvenient and expensive.

The good news is that the new landlord has no problem if practical completion was four or more years ago because the local authority can then take no action. The exception is work done without permission to listed buildings, which is a criminal offence outside the Planning Acts and a much bigger legal headache.

How do you fix the problem?

The landlord has to decide whether to do nothing and wait for the four years to elapse, or approach the local authority and attempt to regularise the situation. If the offending work is causing no harm, then an application can be made for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (a CLEUD) or for retrospective consent.

Any other advice?

Landlords worrying that building work may have been carried out illegally on their prospective new homes can ask the vendor for an indemnity, backed by a reputable insurer, against the costs of complying with any future enforcement order.

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