Question: I'm trying to remortgage but the valuer is insisting on a letter from my local council confirming that my flat is residential and not live/work. I have contacted the council but had no reply. My solicitor says I must call them but maintains the flat is residential. However, the valuer won’t accept his word.
Can you please help me identify the quickest way to verify whether a property is residential or live/work?
Answer: Your flat is likely to be leasehold and your lease should confirm whether the property is to be used for live/work or purely residential purposes.
Your solicitors have assured you that the flat is definitely residential. It is unclear if these solicitors acted for you when you first bought the flat or whether they act for you on your remortgage, but in any event their comment suggests they have your original lease, or a copy. Either ask them to release the original to you or ask for a copy. Once you receive this read it carefully. There is likely to be a schedule towards the end which will list various restrictive covenants and other obligations by which you, as the lessee, will be bound. Look for a covenant requiring the flat to be used for residential purposes or alternatively for living and working. You or your solicitors should provide the valuer with a copy of the lease confirming the position.
Remember that the terms of the original lease could have been changed by a deed of variation — for example, changing use from live/work to residential. Any such deed of variation should be noted on the register of title, so obtain an office copy of the register of your leasehold title from the Land Registry.
Finally, obtain from your local planning department a copy of the planning consent for the building. Conditions in the consent should state whether the flats in the building are for live/work or residential use.