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Apologise in advance if this has been posted in the wrong category
We have a large house in London Borough of Redbridge and in the process of going through mandatory HMO licensing.
Background: we used to live at this property until 5 years ago and in 2009 obtained planning for a double story side and back extension which in essence replaced the attached garage we had. The total space was too much for us and in 2010 once works completed we rented out the downstairs part of the extension (where the garage was) as a one bedroom granny annexe, with kitchen, shower and own front door of the main porch and access to our shared garden.
Fast forward: Now applying for HMO licensing and the council officer is happy to grant licence for the main house for 6 people, however he suggested we apply for a selective licence for the annexe as he would be happy to grant a licence for 2 people.
Issue: we do not have planning for the attached annexe, nor does it have separate utilities or council tax. The council officer advised this would not be an enforcement issues given its been over 4 years? and will bring a planning colleague out to have a look and suggested a certificate of lawfulness?
the annexe has been rented out for 9 years in its current form albeit vacate right now.
Question: What assessment would the council carry out to determine if the unit is lawful? I don’t believe just by suggesting it’s been rented 4 plus years is enough. I am sceptical of them issuing a lawfulness certificate will satisfy having the granny annexe
I welcome your thoughts as to what our options are here and the process/assessment for obtaining certificate of lawfulness.
At worse we will just lock the annexe up and not use if it causes to much pain
Thank you in advance
I thought large parts, if not all of Redbridge had an Article 4 Direction? If that's the case licensing is irrelevant.
I'd check the planning website before you go any further just to be sure.
Thanks for your response Dom, article 4 is in consultation stage (although I expect to be implemented December 19). Therefore this currently does come into play and I suppose when it does we would require planning anyhow.
If thr council are the ones helping you by making these suggestions then you will be fine. They are, after al, the licencing authority.
You failed to get planning permission for the separation of the property into 2 units. Section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 limits the time that the council can take action against you for not getting planning permission for the building works is 4 years. As long as you can prove the work was carried out more than 4 years ago you have no problem. the only bearing the rental of the annex on the planning issue is that it helps you prove the building work was completed more than 4 years ago.
The council are suggesting you get a CLE as
a) they can charge you for it (although it's not normally that expensive)
b) you will need it if you want to sell the property with the separate annex (although you might be better off joining it back on as I would be looking for a discount on a property where building work has been done without planning as it also would have been done without building control inspecting the work).
c) if you have a CLE on file it will stop the council from wasting time chasing you in future
d) the council will be able to give you a back dated council tax bill for the separate dwelling. This will be from 2010. They have 6 years to collect this money from the date they issue a notice which needs to be within a reasonable period of time from the date they find out about the split into 2 dwellings.
e) you may require it to get a selective licence
Redbridge have 2 selective licensing schemes in place and I assume your house is in the area of one of them. A selective licensing scheme allows the council to require some or all non-HMO properties in their borough to have a licence to be rented. If you want to rent the annex you will need a licence. I would assume that as he is happy to grant a licence for 2 people, the annex is up to standard so I would think it is worth doing.
Thank you for your detailed response & time. A couple of questions
-Although building reg for the total project was signed off in 2010& the the annexe was since rented, what will the council use to form part of the assessment to determine if the annexe is lawful?
-forgive me for being flippant, but anyone could say it’s been rented out for the last 8/9 years in its current form, particularly as we don’t have separate council tax or meters?
Your rental agreements, tax returns etc will help you provide this proof as you couldn't rent a separate annex if it wasn't separate. Did you advertise through an agent/online portal? These will help prove you were renting it separately.
From the limited information posted publicly, this may be a ‘converted building test’ HMO is which case it would require one HMO licence for the whole property. Can’t say for sure without seeing the plans and having more information about the occupancy arrangements, but it is an issue worth considering.
Richard Tacagni MCIEH CEnvH
London Property Licensing
This information is intended as general advice and guidance. It is not legal advice and should not be taken or relied upon as such. No liability can be accepted for any reliance on the information published in this response. You may wish to obtain independent legal advice.