Localism Bill could 'cause chaos' in the property market
The Localism Bill could cause uncertainty and chaos in the property market, according to the Law Society.
The Society is concerned that the Bill will allow planning authorities to pursue a planning enforcement order at any time after they become aware that there has been a breach of planning control.
It means property owners could become liable for a breach by a previous owner, unless they could prove that the breach had been concealed from them.
Under the current system, the Town and Country Planning Act provides time limits on the taking of planning enforcement action.
The president of the Law Society, Linda Lee, said the new system could cause uncertainty for buyers of both residential and commercial property if they could not establish whether previous owners had concealed a breach of planning control.
She said: “These reforms could have a serious effect on both the residential and commercial property markets, where innocent purchasers could become liable for the actions of a previous owner.
“This could lead to purchasers demanding that every breach of planning control is remedied or that the price is abated for the risk. It also could delay transactions while enquiries are being made about the planning status of a property.
“It increases the level of due diligence buyers would need to do, as there will no longer be a cut-off date. This could involve buyers incurring considerable expense. It could even necessitate taking out insurance against any unknown potential liability.
“While aimed at the fraudulent and blatant cheats, the provisions are drawn so widely that they will catch anything which has not been expressly pointed out to the planning authority.”
We shall keep clients informed of developments.