Selling your property in Edinburgh: Alterations made to your property and what you need to know.
What will your buyer require?
When you sell your property in Edinburgh standard clause 8 of the Scottish Standard Clauses makes it a condition of the Buyer’s offer to purchase your property that you will produce the necessary local authority consents for alterations and additions made to your home that have been carried out within the past 20 years.
The buyer will need to see the planning consent or planning permission if that was required, the building warrant, drawings and completion certificate and, if your property is part of a listed building, the Buyer will also need to see the Listed Building Consent for the alterations or additions.
How do you know if your property has been altered?
If you are selling for the first time you are probably selling a flat in a Victorian tenement and so the odds are that at some time in the past the internal layout of the flat has been altered. The kitchen and bathroom are the two rooms most commonly that have been altered. So, how can you find out if your property has been altered in the past?
The Home Report (instructed shortly before the start of marketing) will usually give an indication of any alterations that have been made in the past. You can also do a search on the Edinburgh Council’s planning portal to check if the Council have any record of giving consent to alterations although the online records only go back so far. You should also check the correspondence from the solicitor who acted for you when you purchased your home to see if there was any mention of alterations.
Where will you find those alterations documents?
When you purchased your home your solicitor will have asked for the alterations documents from the people who sold to you. If the alterations documents were produced then they will either be (1) with the solicitor; (2) with your lender; or (3) with you if the solicitor sent them to you.
What can you do if the alteration documents can’t be found?
Provided you know that local authority consents were granted for the alterations, then it is usually possible to get copies of the lost documents from the Council but the Council do charge a fee for providing copies and this can be a little expensive if copies of drawings are also required.
What if the alterations were done without the consent of the Council?
This is a little more complicated and what can be done perhaps to an extent depends on how extensive the alteration is. If the alteration is relatively minor in nature then it is often possible for your solicitor and the buyer’s solicitor to agree to obtain a Property Inspection Report from a company to get them to confirm that the alteration appears to comply with Building Regulations and provided the Report does confirm that is the case, then that will usually resolve the issue. You would be responsible for the cost of that Report.
If the alteration is relatively major (i.e. involved moving walls) then it is usual for you to be asked to have the Council carry out a Property Inspection. You will be asked to have plans or drawings prepared and the Council will charge a fee for this. Provided the Council are satisfied that the alteration works comply with Building Safety Regulations then they will issue a letter confirming that no enforcement action will be taken (in effect a letter of comfort) which will be acceptable to the buyer.
But what happens if the alterations were not done properly?
If a Property Inspection Report comes back indicating that the alterations were not done properly, then unfortunately that is likely to become a major problem. The buyer might decide to pull out of the purchase or agreement might be reached to allow you time to have the alteration works “fixed” so that they comply with Regulations.