Work on the wild side

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the legal issues of using a property for business use
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Question: I hope to buy my first property with my young son this year but want to work from home, either from a garage or summerhouse. I have been told I may have to check with the local authority first and that I will need to check the title deeds and change the use in order to be able to work.

I was also told that I would have to buy a property with a share of the freehold. It’s quite disheartening to think my new business could be ruined before it’s even started. What should I do?

Answer: If you find a leasehold property you like, you should check the terms of the lease very carefully. There will probably be a condition prohibiting business use. With a share of a freehold you become a part owner of the freehold and so you could try to convince your fellow freeholders to allow you to use your property for business purposes, even though the lease may exclude it.

If you find a freehold property to buy, you must check the title to the property as there may be covenants restricting how it can be used. A covenant is a written legal promise. Some restrictive covenants exclude business use but may allow the property to be used for professional purposes, eg an accountant’s, solicitor’s or medical practice.

Leasehold properties can also be affected by restrictive covenants registered against the title in addition to restrictions contained in the lease. Do check the lease or the title documents as soon as possible so that you do not waste your time.

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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 property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors

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