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  • Legal FAQs

    Original attic room - does it need BC?

    Hi. My wife and I rent out her house that she owned before we moved in together. Its a Victorian terrace with 2 rooms on the first floor and an attic room. She brought the house as a 2 bed terrace, apparently the estate agent said that they couldn't advertise it as a 3 bed as the attic room was "not habitable"

    I have always been a bit miffed by this as the attic room is clearly original - it has a fireplace, original spindles & banister on the staircase, period floorboards etc. I have dug out the survey she had done at the time and the wording used in this I agree with "attic room doesn't meet current building regulations, but appears to be part of the original construction"

    So, the question I am trying to ask is - can we advertise the house as 3 bedroom?

    Previously we have erred on the side of caution and advertised it as 2 bedrooms, but I think we are potentially shooting ourselves in the foot over what we could achieve as a rental income.  We used to use it as our bedroom, as did the previous owners, as its the best room in the house! all of the other tennants we have had, have also used it as a bedroom.

    My feelings are that the room is perfectly legal. It would have met whatever (if any) building regs at the time it was built. Surely building regs cant be retrospectively applied to old houses - otherwise it would be impossible to rent anything other than a new-build, as everything a few years old would have minor problems - wrong insulation, incorrect wiring colours, single glazed glass, etc.  .

    Thanks for taking the time to read my long post! Can anyone offer some advice here?

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    Hi Daniel and welcome to the tribe.

    This thread may shed some light.  We also had this more recent thread that has a useful suggestion.

    ​Hope that helps for starters?

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    I think it might not matter what the estate agent think. Even if they market it as a 3 bed but only qualifies as a 2 Bed based on the building regs then you won't get the offer/tenants to use that that space as a bedroom. Therefore the price you can get will only be worth a 2 Bed no matter what your personal view might be. 

    For example does the attic have a fire exit? That's one of the building regs. Now even if the regs couldn't be applied retrospectively for your property, and you wanted to pitch it as a 3 bed - and I was a landlord considering a purchase then if your room didn't meet the current building regs then I couldnt market it as such when it comes to me trying to rent it out. 

    So from my point of view as a buyer I would only deem it as a 2 Bed. I think the EA might being upfront with you as they know they market and they know that it is unlikely that they can sell it as a 3 bedroom house. 

    Hope that helps. Just trying to explain the rationale I'd be using if I were approaching you as a buyer.
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    Saagar

    Disclaimer: I have no legal expertise nor am I a qualified advisor on any subject. A humble landlord using an open forum to exchange ideas and experiences. 

    'but only qualifies as a 2 Bed based on the building regs then you won't get the offer/tenants to use that that space as a bedroom.'

    WHY WOULD IT QUALIFY AS 2 BED WHEN BUILT AS 3 BEDS?????????

    'For example does the attic have a fire exit? That's one of the building regs.'

    BY THAT I ASSUME YOU MEAN AN ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF ESCAPE IN CASE OF FIRE, IN WHICH CASE YOU ARE PLAIN WRONG!!!!!!!

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    I've only based my analysis on what I've read previously. I'm not an expert. But if they is a fire in the staircase which is your only place of exit then if I have a tenant in that room then they have no safe way to exist.

    The person who's posted hasn't said what time of window etc they have and whether they have any other safe means of escape. 

    I personally would not buy it as a 3 bed if I didn't have the assurance of a 3 bed. 

    It's my approach to buying with my own criteria. Your approach might be different.
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    Saagar

    Disclaimer: I have no legal expertise nor am I a qualified advisor on any subject. A humble landlord using an open forum to exchange ideas and experiences. 

    your statement about building regs isnt correct.  years ago there had to be an escape window (usually a special velux near the front eaves) from loft conversions, but no more.  

    thats not 'approach'.

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    Fair enough. I still wouldn't buy the house as a 3 bed.

    So if there are others like me who think the same, albeit with out of date info or personal preference, then the market will dictate the price its willing to pay. 

    So even if it were advertised as a 3 bed I  would only pay it with a 2 Bed in mind and my price point would reflect that.
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    Saagar

    Disclaimer: I have no legal expertise nor am I a qualified advisor on any subject. A humble landlord using an open forum to exchange ideas and experiences. 

    that isnt logical (spok).  if you were worried about moe you could install a fire escape velux in the front eaves for less than the difference between a 2 and 3 bed valuation (depending on area!).

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    'Surely building regs cant be retrospectively applied to old houses'

    CORRECT (IF BUILT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONTEMPORANEOUS STANDARDS)!

    I WOULD ADVERTISE IT AS 3 BEDROOMS AS THAT IS WHAT IT IS.

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    I'm currently looking at buying something in York, and there are many Victorian townhouses with purpose-built loft rooms (for the staff!). These rooms may not be as 'habitable' as an estate agent would like, but they are still bedrooms, and not subject to current Building Regs. They apply only when you decide to do new work on the property where Building Regs apply e.g. loft conversion, extension, new electrics, boiler... We've just spent 8 months refurbishing our Regency home. There was a large loft room which was used as a bedroom, but we needed Planning and Building Regs because we wanted to expose unused loft space for a large en-suite and Dressing Room. We didn't need to do anything about a fire escape though.

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    Surely if the room was originally built as a habitable room , then effectively the building had an additional storey incorporated in the roof structure, rather  than being a conversion of the roof. A reasonable determination would be to see if the floor joists are of a similar dimension to those on the lower floors.
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