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What are the problems with buying a house with an easily incorporable annexe accomodation with it's own council tax band?

(34 Posts)
mylovelymonster Wed 23-Nov-11 16:07:27

As above. Apart from the mahoosive additional annual bill.

artyjools Wed 23-Nov-11 19:51:43

Not sure if I am understanding the question correctly, but my understanding is that it isn't as easy as, say taking down the door between the two properties. You have to rip out drains to the annex bathroom or take out the kitchen including the gas point. I took this up with my MP when we were interested in buying a house with an annex. There was no getting around it. Put me off houses with annexes completely.

mylovelymonster Wed 23-Nov-11 22:39:49

The extra space is open to the rest of the ground floor, and have chatted to the local valuation office about rebanding - unhelpfully different info when talking to different people re:rebanding. Don't want to rip out what's there, but want to turn small kitchen into a utility so would remove cooker and cooker points.

I was wondering if anyone's had any practical experience of getting rebanded or issues with resale. Think you've answered the second Q, Artyjools :/

mylovelymonster Sun 27-Nov-11 12:52:02

Anyone else? It takes the council tax cost to well above top rating, so significant monthly spend unless we're able to reband as one property.

So - big no no, unless you are actually looking for an annexe for an elderly relative?
Would you avoid like the plague?
How would it affect offer price? (current asking is ludicrous - no offers forthcoming in almost two years....)

Any experience of owning/selling/buying/changing this sort of house? smile

artyjools Sun 27-Nov-11 22:41:28

When you say open to the rest of the ground floor - is there any type of door or opening where a door has been between the two "properties" and is there a door from the annex to the outside? Is there a kitchen and bathroom in the annex? If so, then it will be separately valued unless you have an elderley person living in it. From my recollection, removing cooker points MIGHT work if you completely remove them i.e. digging out the gas supply - but I never really got a clear answer on that point as electricity is easy to reinstall. I know that saying you want to change the annex kitchen to a utility room won't be enough, as that is exactly what we wanted to do. I found the valuation office pretty unhelpful to. They had a suck it and see attitude, which isn't good enough when you are shelling out a fortune in buying a house.

I took this up with my MP, who took it up with the relevant minister, to no avail. The MP agreed with me that the government are encouraging people to alter their houses to accommodate their elderley relatives, but not alerting them to the fact that their houses might might ultimately lose value. I suspect not many people appreciate the problem and many annexes may be undetected by the Valuation Office. With finances being as they are, I would expect them to get a little bit more proactive at finding them. They already know about the one you are interested in.

What about getting the vendors to get it rebanded?

mylovelymonster Mon 28-Nov-11 09:26:46

Thanks for replying Artyjools. It's a PITA, isn't it. Would work for us. The additional rooms are like a 'U'on one side of the house with internal doors at both sides of the 'U', so good flow. Is bloody annoying as the kitchen in the 'main' house is a bit wee, so the kitchenette would make a perfect utility/laundry with the side access a good way to get out to garden for hanging out and the two living rooms would make a great study/occassional guest room and sitting room for the DCs when they're a bit bigger.

The current owners did it to suit them and their elderly relative, so no extra tax for them. I don't want to fork out for the house and not be able to use it as our proper home without having to pay through the nose every month.

Am v frustrated. I think you are able to appreciate :/

artyjools Mon 28-Nov-11 18:08:58

Yes, frustrated the hell out of me. But we ended up buying a much cheaper house in a much nicer area and it will be brilliant once we have extended it just the way we want it. All the extra space but only one lot of council tax!!

mustdash Mon 28-Nov-11 18:13:28

We did it. Ours had been two flats, so slightly different, but there was a connecting door, which we only had to unlock.

We got the council tax valuer round, who was lovely, and delighted that we were turning it back into one property, and saved ourselves £800 a year in council tax - I kid you not!

Well worth the cup of tea and the biscuit he took. grin

Fizzylemonade Mon 28-Nov-11 18:28:49

I used to work in council tax. The one I dealt with at the time was a house with a flat on the top floor. It had an external staircase to it going up the exterior of the property.

The new owner had no idea it was banded separately, they also wanted to incorporate it into the house.

I advised her to rip out the kitchen and bathroom (they were replacing the bathroom but obviously had another one in the main part of the house) this then put the annexe into a class A exemption -unfit for habitation. This exemption also applies when someone buys a house where an elderly person has lived in it for the last 60 years and done nothing to it. New owner states unfit until refurbished even though the day before it was occupied (hope this is making sense)

It gave them some time then to sort out removing the external staircase, and creating one whole house.

I cannot honestly see why the new property would pose any issues, you are clearly going to be using it as part of the main house, and you are removing the cooking aspect of the kitchen which in my mind confirms it is no longer a kitchen. I wouldn't mention the "occasional guest room" part, just make it office like.

Speak to Council Tax rather than VOA and see where you go from there.

We have a double garage that we converted into a playroom for the children and knocked through from the hall to gain access to it. We also retained a store room across the entire width of the garages at the back. We did this so that in future when we go to sell it could easily be changed into an annexe with its own front door if needed. The main part would be a bedroom, with an en-suite in the store, and then a living room with a kitchen in the store.

artyjools, christ where did you live??? Awful that someone can be so jobs worth about it. People are always converting properties into flats and making flats into one whole household again. I cannot believe they wanted you to dig up drains and remove gas supplies. Barking mad.

mylovelymonster Mon 28-Nov-11 21:23:49

Thanks for your replies. Fizzy - the council tax people just gave me the (out of date) VOA phone number :/ and they just quoted me lots about the legislation, which is fair enough.
The thing that I found irksome is one person said that to remove the cooker and cooker point supply (electric) would be enough, but another person on another conversation said "well you could just plug in a microwave and off you go". [I've never cooked in a micrwave, just thawed/heated up things, but I digress.....] So feel a bit under severe suspicion for trying to evade tax and rent out the useful bits of new home to some stranger..........
Doesn't seem to be much to do with the council tax people - they just say 10% max reduction.............maybe it's to do with the cuts?

mylovelymonster Mon 28-Nov-11 21:27:09

Apparently, I have to buy the house, make the changes we think might do it then get the VOA out, and they will make a decision then and there, but if it was a second person on another day, I might get a different decision.
Perhaps they're just being a bit guarded and it might not be as tough as it sounds? <<hopeful>>

ElderberrySyrup Mon 28-Nov-11 21:28:51

you can appeal - there is a tribunal.

artyjools Tue 29-Nov-11 09:29:17

Fizzylemonade - the point is you advised her to rip out the bathroom and kitchen. I think OP is in the same situation as we were, in that we wanted the facilities that were in the annex to be part of the main house. So we wanted to convert the annex kitchen into a utility room, as there wasn't one and the washing machine was in the garage. We wanted to keep the annex bathroom as there are 5 of us in the house and parents come to stay for a week at a time. And, yes, we did have an eye out for future developments when the annex might be able to provide separate accommodation for a parent or one of the kids - and in case of the latter happening, we would expect it to be taxed separately.

I talked to everyone, VO, local council and my MP. I think Mustdash was lucky. The answer I got was the same as OP, we had to buy and then find out what they would do re the tax. The tax on the main house was already top band, so just not worth the risk for us.

mylovelymonster Tue 29-Nov-11 23:38:32

Thanks for your replies. Really appreciate it. Think we might go for an offer - is the only house we would consider at the moment after an age of looking. If we can get a deal then might be worth it, otherwise we'll see what else comes on in the spring.
If we have to endure the extra £90 a month then it might still be worth it. Just seems so unfair!

I wish we could hope to find something like you have, Artyjools, but everything round here seems to have been already done to death & garden grabbing appalling. Any place with some potential seems to be priced very high or earmarked for 'developers'. Not desparate yet though smile
Good luck with your extensions and every happiness in your new home wine

ElderberrySyrup Wed 30-Nov-11 10:05:32

If you do go for it and they refuse your application re the council tax changes, do appeal. I know someone who sits on a valuation tribunal and it seems that quite a few decisions are overturned, because they were wrongly made in the first place. The tribunal people seem to be commonsense, and not jobsworth, about it.

Fizzylemonade Wed 30-Nov-11 18:58:56

artyjools I can totally understand why you walked away when that was the stance of the VOA. The one I dealt with meant they had 2 kitchens but removed one because it was on the top floor of the house and removed the external stairs so had no way to access the "flat" without going through the main house.

They reinstated the bathroom later on, but made it uninhabitable to get the class A exemption.

To be honest, as we all know Council Tax was rushed through and there are times when certain situations arise and we would make a "local precedent."

We had part of a road that flooded. This occurred very quickly and in the middle of the night so people left their homes with what they could carry. Technically to get a class A exemption the property has to be empty and unfurnished.

When we visited the properties to confirm this, the entire downstairs had to have the plaster removed, new floor joists, electrics, and a new staircase as it was wooden and dangerous.

But the family had left behind several large, heavy free-standing wardrobes as there was no way you would risk bringing those down the rotten stairs.

So despite being "furnished" we gave it a class A and set the precedent for any future flooded properties in our area.

MyLovelyMonster if you do go for it, never mention anyone staying in the "annexe" it is part of your house, you use it daily (kid's chill room) and the other room is an office, the kitchen is now the utility/laundry room and you can show this by staging it all, add the things that demonstrate the identity of the room.

The VOA are often proved wrong with banding etc. Personally I would fight them tooth and nail.

Good luck.

artyjools Wed 30-Nov-11 18:59:40

Good luck. mylovelymonster. Hope it works out for you.

mylovelymonster Wed 30-Nov-11 22:42:20

Thankyou so much for the support. Offer in!!

If we get it, we will be tearing out the cooker and associated electrics from the little kitchen pronto, putting in our washer/dryer, minimising worktop, and hopefully if we can source something suitable, a large cupboard for clean clothes/iron/ironing board to fill up the space and clearly designate it as Laundry only. The office will be just that, and the small living room will be our dining room. No soft furnishings, certainly no sofa-beds grin or anything that could be suspicious as being available for getting too comfortable/sleeping on. Will definitely not mention that we have any friends or family who might wish to visit occassionally, potentially incurring an overnight stay, heaven forbid. Hopefully that should do it grin

Will report back as to
a) success (or otherwise) of offer
b) success (or otherwise) of rebanding campaign

Thanks again x

P.S. There may be an advantage to it having an annexe currently as it may be putting other pesky buyers off!! There is always that. Glass half full, and all that wine

Fizzylemonade Sun 04-Dec-11 23:20:01

Let us know how it goes.

ElderberrySyrup Mon 05-Dec-11 08:54:11

I had a chat to my valuation tribunal contact (since this could turn out to be quite an important issue for us as well when we come to buy) and he said a major issue is whether the annex has its own front door or is accessed through the house.

artyjools Wed 07-Dec-11 16:26:17

By front door, they mean ANY door that connects the annex to the outside! So if you were thinking of popping out of the utility room to hang up the washing....... Gosh, I'm sounding like a glass half empty sort of person, which I'm not! If you love the house enough, you'll work it out.

mylovelymonster Fri 09-Dec-11 12:12:27

Well, we've had an offer accepted of just under 16% below the revised asking price.

Am not emotional about this house, but there is a lot of great stuff about it, and we've been looking for so long just want to get on with our lives! <<melodramatic tendancies>>
Hoping we can get a good result from the VOA! Will let you know. Have a lovely weekend x
Christmas party tomorrow!!grinwine

mylovelymonster Mon 23-Jul-12 10:40:19

For anyone still remotely interested, we are now in ownership and may have some news from the VOA soon wink

onesandwichshort Mon 23-Jul-12 17:00:36

I am very interested - do let us know what happens when there is news.

We've just bought two flats and are converting them back into a house. Our council seemed quite relaxed about it; they said we just need to get a 'certificate of lawful use' from planning and then it would be fine.

However, we're at the slight advantage of not paying any council tax for the moment as they are both uninhabitable tips. We're going to move into one flat for a while, then do up the ground floor one, so have plenty of time to get them to agree.

Fizzylemonade Mon 23-Jul-12 22:38:31

mylovelymonster I am so pleased you got it, keep us posted about the VOA's decision.

onesandwichshort it does all depend on the council, some are more stringent than others. It is all about how legislation etc is interpreted grin

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