Converting a garage to a bedroom: how can we check there was the correct planning permission for our conversion?


Question: We recently bought a house with a detached garage located to the rear of the garden. The garage, which was built only a few years ago, has a first floor suitable for living accommodation, with a bathroom and kitchenette. We were told by the previous vendor that the building cannot be used as residential accommodation, but how can we confirm this and obtain permission?​

Answer: When you purchased the property, if you were intending to convert the first floor of the garage into residential accommodation of the type you describe, it would have been prudent to have discussed this with the solicitors who acted for you in the purchase, so that they could have advised you regarding possible conversion of part of the garage and raised relevant enquiries of the seller.

Look at your title deeds to see if there are any restrictive covenants prohibiting the garage being used for residential accommodation, and also look at the planning permission for the garage as that may include conditions prohibiting any residential use.

When you bought the house the seller should have disclosed in the Property Information Form whether any notices or correspondence had been received or sent to the council which affect the property, so if a planning application to convert part of the garage had been made in the past, that should have been disclosed irrespective of the outcome.

You could seek advice from a surveyor or architect on whether an application for planning permission and building regulation consent for converting part of the garage are likely to succeed, and also consult a solicitor regarding the enforceability of any restrictive covenants affecting the property

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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