Are you liable for unauthorised works carried out on your property?

An expert from the Listed Property Owners' Club gives advice.
An expert from the Listed Property Owners' Club gives advice.
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Buying a listed building with unauthorised works.

Q. We are about to exchange contracts on the purchase of a Grade C listed house in Aberdeen and our specialist surveyor has unearthed unauthorised works by previous owners. Where does the liability fall to put these right and should I still proceed with the purchase?

ANSWER: All alterations which affect the character of a listed building require listed building consent. If a previous owner failed to get consent for any alterations you need to be aware that you, as the owner, could be required to reverse the alteration at your cost.

Buyers need to be particularly vigilant because there is no time limit on enforcement action. As well as being potentially very costly and inconvenient to you it could make the house very difficult to sell in the future if the issues are not resolved.

Listed building controls extend to the inside as well as the outside of the listed building and to any object or structure fixed to the building or within its curtilage which pre-dates 1948.

As an intending purchaser it is always worth instructing your specialist surveyor and solicitor to look out for unauthorised alterations.

Ideally you should look to resolve any outstanding issues prior to agreeing to the purchase. This normally involves negotiation with the vendors and the local planning authority. You may need to consider applying for listed building consent retrospectively or reversing the changes.

When it comes to unauthorised works, it is always advisable to speak with an expert with experience and knowledge of the planning rules and regulations surrounding listed buildings.

If you own or are thinking of buying a listed building, don’t miss The Scottish Listed Property Show, with the biggest collection of listed building suppliers and experts under one roof.

Plus, you can meet face-to-face with experts on planning, legal issues, insurance, damp, energy efficiency and independent conservation officers for impartial help and advice.

Visitors to the show are encouraged to bring documents and photographs are specific advice.

The Scottish Listed Property Show takes place on Saturday 27th October at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh. Book tickets in advance for a discounted price of £8 when you quote SM2. Visit or call 0131 357 3300.

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