I am buying a property that is listed and would like to ensure the kitchen was updated with all necessary approvals. 

This is how I can protect myself and verify it. LP

Before buying a period property, check for the correct consents if any renovation work was carried out

Check for any necessary consents before purchasing an older property.

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies:Check that you have obtained the appropriate consents before buying an older property.

Because you are liable for the unauthorised work of the vendor,

You can remove this risk by reverse engineering the work – if possible – and applying retrospectively to consent for the kitchen expansion.

You can make compromises, such as looking into indemnity insurance to protect you and your bank from unauthorised modifications.

If you’re a cash buyer you may decide to go ahead with the transaction on condition that you accept any risk of not consenting.

Vanessa Rhodes from Kingsley Napley law firm stated:Listings are a great way to find a property that’s unique, interesting and full of personality if you’re in the market for a home. It is true that listing means additional control over the works done to the property.

National Heritage List for England is a list that protects historic and architecturally significant buildings in England. These buildings are of national significance. This means that all demolitions, modifications or extensions to listed buildings require listed building consent.

Works to listed buildings are approved by local planning authorities. If the work has an effect on the exterior appearance of the building it may be necessary to apply for planning permission. 

This could include, for example, the construction of an extension or new windows and/or doors. 

Vanessa will tell you what to do: 

What is the best way to verify that consents have been obtained?

You should hire a heritage specialist to inspect the property.

You can have a periodic building survey done, or you could do them both at once. Some surveyors may combine the two. 

If the heritage survey is not clear, it will let you know what to do. 

There are heritage surveyors who will perform both the standard and the heritage building surveys. But clients often will also instruct the other and these people tend to be slightly more affordable.

For buyers who want to take care of historical buildings, heritage surveys provide advice on historic building preservation and heritage conservation.

The results of the search by the local authority will be reviewed by your solicitor. This information will reveal all permissions that were granted to the property from the local planning authorities. 

The seller will be contacted to verify that the consents were obtained. They also need to confirm that the conditions of the building permits have been fulfilled.

The heritage surveyor and solicitor will check whether the work was completed before the building was designated. If it is, no permission for a listed building will be required.

What is the importance of checking?

You will be responsible for unauthorised works they did. It is important to verify that the consents were obtained by the prior owners.

There is no limit to the time you can take enforcement action. You may have to reverse any alteration in the future. If the approval was not granted, you could have to “undo” or alter your kitchen extension. 

You should carefully consider this before buying the property.

You can also be charged with a crime for not seeking listed building consent when required. 

Maximum punishment is either two years imprisonment or an unspecified fine. You cannot defend against criminal proceedings by not knowing that a building has been listed or by claiming the work was done previously.

What options are available to you as a buyer?

Before you buy, as the buyer you should consider what liability you may have. 

You should consider whether the works were done without consent or if the listed building consent conditions are being violated. 

The usual advice of a heritage surveyor regarding whether or not you are eligible for retrospective listed building consent will depend on the severity of your breach.

You can take steps to protect yourself and relieve any anxiety if your kitchen extension wasn’t approved.

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You can remove all risk by reversing the alteration, if you are able to do so. Or for either the seller or yourself to retroactively apply for consent to the kitchen extension. 

If you wish to make a conditional deal with the seller, this will stipulate that only the seller can give retrospective consent for the extension of your kitchen.

Sellers will resist this because, if the retrospective consent application fails, the problem is brought to the attention by the local planning authorities who may serve enforcement notices on sellers in respect to the alterations.

You can negotiate a price cut to help cover the hassle and costs of retro consent. 

Price negotiations should acknowledge that buyers will accept the risks of not consenting and all the liability associated with them.

Cash buyers can agree to consent to the possibility of not being consented. 

If you have a mortgage you will need to get indemnity insurance. This will protect you and your bank from unauthorized alterations. 

It is important to talk with your lawyer about the indemnity insurance policies. Many of them include clauses that can invalidate the policy in case you ask the local planning authorities for permission for future works.

This could happen if the owner consents to you making changes to another property. 

Although there are other bespoke indemnity policy options that could help, these policies may not be sufficient to solve this issue. They can be expensive and have high excesses.

Remember that you must notify the seller if your kitchen extension is not approved. If you do, you will need to address the problem in any future sales.

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