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Son's flat appears not to have been given planning permission for conversion...

(14 Posts)
deleted203 Sun 07-Oct-12 00:20:44

Can anyone give me a bit of advice, please? DS and friends signed up with estate agent because they were looking for 6 person house to share. Agent found them one that was being renovated and they took it, but wanted separate contracts. (At uni - so if, say, a couple of them dropped out the others didn't want to find they were liable to cover the extra rent). Agent charged them £120 each. Found them place. Then charged another £120 each for the separate contracts, which landlady agreed to. Moving in date was put back twice as place wasn't quite finished. (DS ended up spending first two weeks on someone's floor). Now 3 weeks after they move in they've had a letter from the council addressed to Dear Sir/Madam which they opened to discover it is saying 'We understand you are undertaking building work to convert this chapel into a dwelling place, but as you do not have the required planning permission work must immediately cease'......

Clearly the landlady didn't get permission to convert this building, and presumably should not have tenants in there! What should DS and friends do? They went through a (supposedly) reputable letting agency to avoid this type of thing. Should estate agent refund the almost £1500 they took off the lads for arranging this let? And should they stop paying rent and take legal advice? Obviously they don't want to pay next month's rent if they find themselves evicted by the council and homeless. Anyone got any advice?

quoteunquote Sun 07-Oct-12 12:04:31

phone shelter on monday,

and CAB, and the student union should be able to provide support.

it will take a while for the planning issue to be sorted,

but I would be asking how they got the building work signed off,because It may be unsafe, if it wasn't overseen,the building inspector and planning should of seen the job at all stages, if there wasn't permission in place, they would of known, so something is very fishy,

they are probably planning on applying for retrospective permission.

deleted203 Sun 07-Oct-12 12:47:42

Thank you! Will do so. I don't believe they did get the building work signed off in light of this letter. Do we have a case against letting agents do you think? (DS would love his £240 back if nothing else!)

HaveToWearHeels Sun 07-Oct-12 12:57:50

It's not the letting agents fault, it is not his responsability to check every property they market to see if it is "legal". The issue you have is with the landlord. Would definately contact CAB and also stop paying the rent.

amillionyears Sun 07-Oct-12 13:10:59

The website HousePriceCrash would probably be able to help you if you get stuck for information.

quoteunquote Sun 07-Oct-12 14:10:46

Have you looked on the council web site to see if planning was given?

deleted203 Sun 07-Oct-12 14:13:17

Thanks all. Heels I thought that was exactly the letting agent's responsibility, actually, to make sure that properties were properly regulated - but I may well be mistaken. We thought that was what we were paying their fee for, basically to make sure that he had a reputable landlord. Otherwise we would have just looked in local paper at 'properties to let', which wouldn't have cost anything in extra fees.

amillion Had a quick look at the website, but it just seems to be about what properties are worth. Am I missing something?

MainlyMaynie Sun 07-Oct-12 14:16:19

If they all have separate contracts it's an HMO and should have all the appropriate approvals in place. The letting agent will have known that, so will have known that things weren't right. SU and letting agent on Monday morning.

amillionyears Sun 07-Oct-12 14:42:01

Had a better look.It appears you have to be a member to ask a question.
I have seen posts from here put across to there,as anyone can read things on the online site.
If you dont get any joy elsewhere,I would start a new thread on here,asking for the help of a member of both sites.

When one of my sons had doubts about a property to rent,as to whether all work had been done to a property he was considering to rent,that had been converted from a old peoples home,I think it was,into flats.He rang up the local council to see if all appropriate planning permissions and paperwork had been completed.The council were very helpful.The property concerned seemed to have some paperwork but not all.My son decided not to proceed with renting it.And I think the council were going to further look into things.

Personally I would ring the person from the council who sent the letter,and have a list of questions ready.

deleted203 Sun 07-Oct-12 15:37:39

Thanks, amillion. That's a good idea about ringing council. Apparently they contacted landlady and she said she would come round last week to talk to them - she never turned up. I think ringing council is best thing to do to find out where they stand.

Boomboomboomboom Sun 07-Oct-12 18:24:43

I think they can stay there and should continue to pay rent unless and until they are required to stop. potentially the council could serve an enforcement notice preventing occupation as a residential dwelling both on landlady and them as occupiers but that would give then time, maybe 28 days but possibly longer. at that point I'd have thought the contract was frustrated as that cannot continue to reside there without getting into trouble with the council. at that stage, I'd be asking for a refund of all the letting fees.

good point about the safety of the build though, it is possible but seems unlikely that building regs would have signed off the work.

MrAnchovy Mon 08-Oct-12 10:44:43

There are many factors here: the fact that there are six tenants on separate contracts presumably means that these are licences rather than tenancies; the property appears to be a House in Multiple Occupation which requires specific licensing; is there a habitation certificate, gas safety certificate etc.?

The university's Accomodation Office may be able to help, but Shelter are the experts.

Fizzylemonade Mon 08-Oct-12 11:15:38

They should each have a separate tenancy agreement with only their name on and the room they are letting stated on it. Otherwise if one person leaves then the remaining 5 have to stump up to cover the extra rent.

We had ones with different rent amounts due to the sizes of the room, shared and not shared etc.

I would always advise students to go through approved accommodation via the University's Accomodation officer, as they are working on behalf of the students, not an estate agent who gets paid via the Landlord/Landlady.

Good luck getting sorted out.

amillionyears Mon 08-Oct-12 11:21:47

Fizzylemonade,in my experience this doesnt happen very often amy more.
Landlords increasingly make the contracts joint and several,so each student is potentially liable if any of the other students,and their guarantor end up not paying.
You can ask,but again,in my experience,they dont want to budge on this issue.

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