If you are considering having work done to your house, such as a loft conversion, there is specific documentation you can apply for that can prove any pre-existing/proposed development has been done lawfully. This is where a Certificate of Lawfulness comes in.
It is a document specifying that any work carried out on a property has been done lawfully on the date specified in the certificate application.
Both types of Certificate of Lawfulness are issued by the local planning authority.
In short, they confirm that either:
A Certificate of Lawfulness is neither mandatory or a legal requirement for a loft conversion. However, we always advise our clients to obtain one because of the benefit and future assurance they offer.
Certificates of Lawful Use or Development for a loft conversion can be particularly beneficial when it comes to either buying or selling a house. Solicitors who represent the buyer will almost always require documentary evidence that proves that the loft extension is completely lawful. The evidence provided by the Certificate of Lawfulness can therefore often help with the sale of the house by proving this to the buyer.
As Certificates of Lawful Use or Development provide the necessary evidence that any work carried out has been done legally, they can also help in the event that a neighbour queries the work or has a complaint to make.
To obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness for your loft conversion, you will need to submit an application to your local planning authority through the Planning Portal or council website. Alongside your application, copies of drawings of the existing and/or the proposed development and a site location plan will need to be submitted online.
After the application has been submitted to the local authority, one of their officers will be assigned to assess your application, arrange an inspection of the building site and check any plans from the property’s development history.
With a loft conversion, a Certificate of Lawfulness will be an extra cost to budget for as it costs £103, but because of the benefits, it is highly recommended to consider investing in one for the project.
We always advise our clients to wait for the work to be started until the Certificate has been properly issued. It usually takes between 6 to 8 weeks for the certificate to be approved once it has been submitted to the local authority.