Home Money The council says we must knock down our converted garage we rent out – what can we do?

The council says we must knock down our converted garage we rent out – what can we do?

by Elijah
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Some municipalities have created specialized law enforcement teams to attack rented premises (file image)

During the pandemic, my dad installed a bathroom and kitchen in the garage at the end of our garden and rented it to a friend of his, for a nominal £300 a month.

The man had been renting a room in a nearby house and was evicted by his landlord at the start of the pandemic and had nowhere else to go.

My father was simply trying to provide a house for someone, but now the city council says that the converted garage is illegal, that the tenant must move out and that it must be torn down.

The house is in my name and I’m worried about getting in trouble and getting fined, but I don’t want to leave anyone homeless or tear down the garage. Is there anything I can do? G.K.

Some municipalities have created specialized law enforcement teams to attack rented premises (file image)

MailOnline property expert Myra Butterworth answers: It is generally difficult to obtain planning permission to convert a garage into a home.

Planners do not like to see plots subdivided into two homes, one located immediately behind the other.

We spoke to a planning expert about whether you are breaching planning control and even whether a crime has been committed, plus what you can do to help resolve the situation.

Martin Gaine, a chartered urban planner, responds: If there is something that irritates and bothers those responsible for planning, it is what they call “beds in sheds”: people living in converted outbuildings.

It is a controversial issue and some councils have specialized law enforcement teams specifically to attack premises that have been rented.

In your case, your father was doing the tenant a good favor at a difficult time and, although some converted outbuildings are death traps, many are well built and have all the modern conveniences.

Planners don’t like to see plots subdivided into two homes, one situated immediately behind the other, known as tandem development.

The best garden “shelters” are custom-made, comfortable and energy efficient.

However, the City Council is right that urban planning control is being violated.

By installing a kitchen and bathroom in the annex building and then renting it to a third party, his father created an independent and autonomous home and for this he needed a building permit.

It is extremely difficult to obtain planning permission to convert a garage into a home.

Planners don’t like to see plots subdivided into two homes, one situated immediately behind the other, known as tandem development.

There are also strict minimum standards for new houses and flats, including minimum areas and requirements in terms of lighting, views, privacy, garden areas and parking.

Urban planners do not like plots being subdivided into two homes, one after the other, according to planning expert Martin Gaine.

Urban planners do not like plots being subdivided into two homes, one after the other, according to planning expert Martin Gaine.

The ‘four year rule’

According to the so-called “four-year rule”, a conversion to create a new home is legal from an urban planning point of view after a period of four years.

However, you say your father installed the kitchen and bathroom during the pandemic, so presumably just under four years ago.

Therefore, it seems inevitable that you will have to convert the outbuilding back into a garage. I recommend that you work with your law enforcement agent to determine the best way to resolve the situation.

If the garage was converted into a home, rather than being built as a home in the first place, it is unreasonable for them to ask you to completely demolish it. I don’t see why you can’t keep it as a garage.

It should be enough to reverse the illegal development by evicting the tenant and dismantling the kitchen and bathroom.

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Law enforcement officers are not ogres: they are there to help.

They respond well to people who are open and honest with them.

They prefer that the situation be resolved by agreement without the need for formal coercive measures.

They will usually give you enough time to notify the tenant and vacate the property, and for tradesmen to be hired to carry out the repair work.

It is not a crime to violate planning and the system is not there to punish you.

You don’t need to worry about getting in trouble or getting a fine – an offense is only committed if the council serves an enforcement notice and you fail to comply.

The purpose of involving the enforcement officer and finding an agreed solution is to avoid an enforcement notice altogether.

If the council serves an enforcement notice, it is important that you obtain specialist advice from a solicitor or planning consultant experienced in planning enforcement matters.

You may need to appeal the notice and failing to comply has legal consequences, including the risk of prosecution.

Luxury spa razed

Demolition of unauthorized £200,000 luxury spa complex at Captain Tom Moore's daughter's home

Demolition of unauthorized £200,000 luxury spa complex at Captain Tom Moore’s daughter’s home

The issue of converting buildings without planning permission has been in the news in recent weeks due to the unauthorized £200,000 luxury spa complex at the home of Captain Tom Moore’s daughter.

Captain Tom’s family lost an appeal against Central Bedfordshire Council to retain their spa complex after a planning inspector ruled it was “at odds” with their Grade II listed home.

Central Bedfordshire Council issued an enforcement notice last July to demolish the unauthorized building and its appeal was dismissed last November.

The demolition of the £200,000 unauthorized luxury spa complex at the home of Captain Tom Moore’s daughter was finally completed this month.

Aerial photographs show the building was reduced to just a lump of mud after workers completed a week’s work on his £1.2 million home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire.

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