Buying a listed property can allow you to own a little slice of British history. By definition, a listed property is one that appears on a national register as a property of architectural or historic importance or interest. There are also a large number of properties across England and Wales that fall within Conservations Areas; these are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.
These buildings can be used for either residential or commercial use but often come with restrictions as to how the buildings can be altered, renovated or decorated. Farleys Solicitors’ property team have experience of managing the purchase of listed buildings and properties in conservation areas on behalf of buyers to ensure they are fully aware of any legal requirements and obligations.
What Categories of Listed Buildings Are There?
Grade I buildings are described as being of exceptional interest – only 2.5% of listed buildings are categorised as Grade I.
Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. 5.5% of listed buildings have been placed in this category.
Grade II buildings are of special interest. This is the most common grading with 92% of all listed buildings being categorised as grade II. Most residential listed properties are grade II buildings.
Purchasing a Listed Property
When you are looking to purchase a listed property it is important to check that there have been no unauthorised alterations carried out by previous owners. An experienced solicitor or conveyancer can assist you by fully investigating all previous alterations and ensuring that consent was granted for each one.
If you do not have previous alterations investigated for their legitimacy, you could end up footing the bill for fines relating to unauthorised alterations even if they were done prior to you buying the property.
Also, usually due their history, listed buildings can be subject to and benefit from more complex restrictions, rights and easements than “normal” properties. Farleys’ property team will not only report to you on the existence of such matters but will advise you on the impact they may have on your ownership.
Purchasing a Property in a Conservation Area
Before buying a property in a conservation area you should make sure you are aware of the extra requirements and planning conditions put in place for properties in that area. Common areas classed as designated conservation areas by a local authority are often historic towns, fishing and mining villages, and suburbs per-dating the early 20th century. Some of the aspects of owning a property in a conservation area that can be restricted are;
Loft conversions with windows visible from the outside
Replacing window frames
Trees and shrubbery
Full or partial demolition
And anything else that changes the outward appearance of the property
If you’re considering buying a property in a conservation area, you should consult with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity who can advise on the requirements and conditions you will be taking on with the property to allow you to make an informed decision before making an offer.
Farleys’ property team can then provide advice and assistance throughout the buying process to ensure efficient and compliant completion. Our legal advice will be straightforward and stress-free; we won’t baffle you with legal jargon.