Is my Georgian gem a rough diamond?

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty explains the process of applying for retrospective building consent
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Question: I have a flat in a Grade-II listed Georgian building. When a surveyor friend recently visited he spotted work done by previous owners of my flat and said he doubted any of it had been granted listed building consent. He said I should be very careful before embarking on similar alterations. It has got me worried. What should I do?

Answer: Firstly, find out more from your friend about the work he thinks has been done without consent. He might help you compare the present layout of your flat with the layout shown on your lease. That could reveal a lot about what has been done.

If there is no listed building consent your solicitor may have obtained an indemnity policy from the sellers to cover any lack of consent. If no such policy exists, you could consider paying for one now, but that could get tricky if you ever want to do any work to the flat yourself because this could invalidate the cover.

You could apply for retrospective consent but you will need professional advice from a surveyor, and not simply informal advice from your friend, on how likely you are to succeed.

If your solicitor didn’t advise you correctly about listed building consent when you bought the flat you could have a claim against them.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP

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