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Surveyor says room considered uninhabitable for letting, anyone help??

(25 Posts)
TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 12:33:49

This is an excerpt from a survey for a buy to let house. Please can anyone tell me what is the reason for this and how to fix it?

The room is a loft conversion and is accessible via stairs from the first floor. There is a velux window in it.

"Please also note that the second floor means of escape is not considered safe or adequate due to the lack of a protected escape route as defined by the building regulations, and the second floor bedroom should not therefore be classed as habitable."

Thank you!!

RandomMess Sat 18-May-13 12:35:25

There should be enclosed stairs from the loft to the front door with fire doors everywhere - so no open staircases - is that the case?

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 12:37:15

yes, the staircase is open and there is just a panel door on it which we put up as there was no door when we bought it.

The staircase is open so where would there need to be doors? Any idea of cost?


georgedawes Sat 18-May-13 12:41:10

It's not a legal loft conversion with meets building regulations. The door is one thing, but there may well be other issues - e.g. are the joists strong enough to support the weight of the room?

You need to talk to your surveyor.

RandomMess Sat 18-May-13 12:45:35

Agree with georgedawes I just know from having our own loft room in (note not bedroom) it would mean putting in walls and doors to make a safe exit.

AndBingoWasHisNameOh Sat 18-May-13 12:48:04

Speak to your surveyor.

It may well be the windows. When I last had windows replaced I was told there had to be a minimum opening size in at least one window to allow escape. A regular velux would be smaller than this.

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 12:49:52

Hmm, the house is listed and the conversion was done 20 years ago but the staircase/loft room is original. Elsewhere in his report it does say that perhaps the council made an exception due to the listed nature of the house.

LIZS Sat 18-May-13 12:50:17

The staircase has to be enclosed and have a handrail. Also conversion needs fire retardant plaster board and ventilation. If you are employing the surveyor (ie not just a valuation for mortgage purposes ) you could ask what is required and approximate cost or take a builder around . Presumably the vendor has no BR certificate ?

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 12:50:56

The rest of the room is fine I think, the works were done via a grant from the local council so I think they were quite on top of it all.

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 12:51:15

I am the vendor BTW!

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 12:51:54

Don't know what the buyer thinks yet, just pre-empting questions. The buyer sent me the survey at the same time they received it.

LIZS Sat 18-May-13 12:52:26

As long as it met BR at the time then you should be ok but their solicitor would need something as proof.

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 12:52:35

Does anyone know if this will specifically affect the fact they want to let the house?

georgedawes Sat 18-May-13 12:54:23

Have you not got a building regs cert?

Their mortgage company may not like it.

LIZS Sat 18-May-13 12:55:47

It may affect the valuation, selling price and rental income, if they discount the room as a bedroom and thereby the viability of the investment.

RandomMess Sat 18-May-13 12:59:24

I'm not sure, do lettings have to have a fire inspection these days?

LunaticFringe Sat 18-May-13 13:00:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Viviennemary Sat 18-May-13 13:08:23

I think it just means it can't be classed as a room for rental or selling. But just classed as a storeroom even if it isn't. We once looked into having our loft converted years ago. But we didn't bother in the end. But they did say something about room wouldn't be able to be classed as a room but only a storage room.

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 13:16:35

Thanks guys, you've been really helpful.

flow4 Sat 18-May-13 16:39:36

You said above that the attic room and staircase are original. There are important differences between 'loft conversions' and 'attic rooms', as I understand it. If you have an attic room that was built as a habitable room and not just a roof space in the original house, and the attic has an original staircase, then the usual building regs don't all apply. But the fire escape regs do. You must have a fire exit on the first floor (ie. a window that opens fully or a balcony with opening doors) and the route from the attic to that fire exit must be 'protected' - so if a fire started in any other room in the house, it would take 30 mins to get into any part of the escape route between the attic and the first floor exit. This usually means enclosing the staircase, adding a firedoor or two, and adding a 'turn and tilt' window somewhere like the landing, if there isn't one already.

Your attic room, if it was always a room, can be called, counted and sold as a room... However, your buyer will have to address the BR fire escape issue to be able to let out the house with use of that room. You could do it for them, or you could knock something off the selling price... Or you could argue that it's a letting issue not a house one, and that it's up to them what they want to do about it...

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 18:44:41

flow thanks for that, is really helpful. how much do you think something like enclosing the stair case and the fire doors and window would cost?

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 19:36:25

Sorry, realised I didn't answer your question upthread georgedawes. We have all the planning and building regs docs, they were all in place when we bought it. Our surveyor did not raise this as an issue but I think the fire regs weren't in place then?

flow just to confirm, whatever type of tenant the BTL-er would put in (family or individual rooms) they would need to make the loft room comply with the regs you described?

TerrysNo2 Sat 18-May-13 19:48:00

Sorry for dripfeeding comments!

flow if the council accepted that the buildings/fire regs weren't needed considering the listed nature of the house, could a landlord also apply this as a reason not to change it?

flow4 Sun 19-May-13 01:47:14

Terrys, I'm no expert, sorry, so I don't know the answers to your questions for sure...

What I do know is that I have just had a BtL mortgage valuation survey done on my house, which has an original attic, enclosed staircase, doors but not firedoors, and a 1st floor fire escape window, and it was judged fit to let.

I wouldn't have thought it would cost much to enclose the staircase - it's like building a partition wall, basically.

I don't know if the landlord cd apply for exemption - maybe. But maybe not, because owner occupiers take their own risks, but landlords are required to have various safety measures in place, and have a duty of care towards their tenants.

Sausagedog27 Sun 19-May-13 07:49:20

If the attic has always been like that I don't see the issue. None of the building is going to meet current regulations. To do the alterations listed building consent will be required and you might not get if it affects the character of the house.

I agree with flow that it's the letting that is an issue- id be tempted to wait and see what the purchasers say- they may not query it at all.

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