Can we buy a house from a developer without warranties or certificates?

We want to buy a house from a developer who built it about seven years ago. He only has the Local Building Completion Certificate from the council, dated 31/08/2007, and an architect's certificate which expired a few years ago. Should we proceed?

Question: We wish to buy a house from a developer who built it about seven years ago. He only has the Local Building Completion Certificate from the council, dated 31/08/2007, and an architect's certificate which expired a few years ago. Because the property is less than 10 years old, should we proceed even though there are no warranties or certificates? Will it cause issues for lenders? 

Answer: You have not mentioned planning consent. Check with the planning authority to establish the planning history — was planning permission granted and were any conditions in that permission satisfied and signed off by the planners? If a property has been built or converted within the last 10 years or is to be occupied for the first time, then in order to satisfy the Council of Mortgage Lenders it must have been built under a scheme acceptable to the lender. Examples are the NHBC or a Premier Guarantee, which essentially provide a building guarantee. Without this you are likely to face difficulties obtaining a mortgage.

Had the property been built within the last six years, some lenders would accept a professional consultant's certificate, but this does not help you and the certificate which was issued has expired. It is possible to obtain a building warranty retrospectively, which could satisfy a lender. Establish if the seller is prepared to obtain such a warranty and, indeed, pay for it.

WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM? IF YOU have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (withyking.co.uk).

Retrospective warranties can be expensive, but if the seller wants to sell the property to a buyer who needs a mortgage then it may be the only way forward.

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 


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