There is a lot to contemplate before buying a listed property. Erin Denness from our Residential Conveyancing team addresses some frequently asked questions and concerns.
Q: I have been told that the property that I am buying is a listed building - what is this?
A listed building is a building that is considered to be of particular architectural, historical or cultural interest. There are just fewer than 400,000 listed buildings in England.
The ‘Listing’ of a building is a reference to it being placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. For buildings located in England, the list is known as the National Heritage List for England.
The Government body responsible for deciding whether a building should be added to the List is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
There are three grades of listed building; Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II.
By far the most common grading for listed residential properties is Grade II. A Grade II listed building is considered to be nationally important and of special interest.
On the Historic England website (www.historicengland.org.uk) you can look up your chosen property and check its listing.
Q: What are my obligations as the owner of a listed building?
Owners of listed buildings are required to maintain the building and not allow it to fall into disrepair.
The Local Authority can serve the owner of a listed building with an Enforcement Notice if they allow the building to fall into disrepair. This notice can compel the owner to repair and reinstate the building.
Listed building owners can face criminal prosecution if they allow the building to seriously disintegrate.
Q: What restrictions might affect my use of the property if it is a listed building?
When buying a listed property it is important to remember that it may not only be the building itself that is listed, but also everything in what is known as the ‘curtilage’ of the building. This can often mean that the garden falls within the protection of the listing.
If you are planning to carry out refurbishment or other building works to a listed property or its garden you should bear in mind that you will need to obtain Listed Building Consent for the works as well as any planning permissions and Building Regulation approvals.
It is a criminal offence to alter, extend or demolish any part of a listed property without Listed Building Consent. Anything which changes the fabric of the property will need consent; this can include changing windows and doors. Even the colour of the exterior paintwork can be protected under the ‘Listing.’
If your chosen works are given listed building consent you may be obliged to use certain materials and techniques. This can greatly increase the cost of the building project.
Q: Are there any other considerations that I should be aware of when buying a listed building?
Listed buildings are often more expensive to insure than non-listed buildings. This is because the cost of repair or reinstatement can be significantly higher as any works will need to meet the requirements of the conservation officer.
You should carefully research the cost of insuring the property to ensure that you will be able to meet the premiums during your ownership.
If you would like to discuss the issues detailed above please contact Erin Denness, Associate, 01892 701384
First published in Times of Tunbridge Wells in July 2015: http://issuu.com/one-media/docs/times_of_tunbridge_wells_issue_18_j/1?e=13312341/13874467