Buying and selling a listed building

When you think of a listed building it’s likely the first image that comes to mind is one which is a chocolate box cottage with a thatched roof or perhaps a house which is timber framed.
However, they can actually come in all shapes and sizes, be of any age and can include residential or commercial buildings, houses and flats and even theatres and other cultural venues, such as the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa (pictured).
Whatever the use they have, the aesthetic appeal of a listed building makes them more desirable and therefore when they come on the market they are among the most sought after.
The key aspect though is they don’t come without issues, and buyers and sellers need to be aware of the many regulations and restrictions when it comes to refurbishments, upgrades or extensions.

But first things first, what is a listed building?

A building is listed when it is of special architectural or historic interest considered to be of national importance and therefore worth protecting. There are three different grades, Grade I, Grade II and Grade II*. In the UK there are currently about 500,000 buildings which are covered by these categories and 92% are Grade II listed.

How is a listed building different?

Listed buildings are generally, but not exclusively, older properties. They are given listed status to protect them due to their historical, architectural or local, regional or national importance and have extra legal protection within the planning system. This means any work the owner wants to do – whether externally or internally such as knocking a wall down, painting an outside wall, putting in double glazed windows, or even installing a new kitchen – needs to be approved via a listed building consent application to the local planning authority. Generally, there is also an understanding any replacements will be done on a like for like basis for example replacing a thatched roof, using lime plaster, or replacing wooden windows, and it’s unlikely applications for demolition will even be considered. It is essential for the owner or potential owner to know and understand the rules regarding listed status of buildings before any work takes place otherwise fines can be imposed. The reasons for the strict rules are designed to maintain the building’s integrity and not damage or destroy the cultural, historical or architectural importance of the building.

What do you need to consider when selling a listed home?

There are no restrictions when putting a listed property on the market, but whatever home you are selling you need to prove to prospective buyers any work and maintenance you have completed was done with full listed building consent. This includes any work done during your time as the owner or anything completed by any previous owner and you need to be certain no illegal work has been done. You will need to provide evidence of relevant planning permissions, listed building consents and building regulation forms if any alterations have been made. Failure to provide this evidence could cost the sale as most buyers would be put off from completing on a sale without it even if they are cash buyers. Some lenders will not offer a mortgage on a property without evidence any work was carried out with full listed consent.

What do you need to consider if you are renting a listed home?

If you are a tenant living in a listed property you need to be aware of what you can and can’t do in terms of alterations both inside and out. Your tenancy agreement should be the first place to start for information. If you wish to alter or do maintenance work to any aspect of the property you will need to speak to the landlord or letting agent first. If you are landlord it is essential you draw up a tenancy agreement outlining the strict rules and regulations regarding doing any alterations or maintenance of the property. Even something as simple as painting the inside or outside of the property could need permission. Always check the tenancy agreement or speak to the local authority planning department.

Sheldon Bosley Knight’s sales manager Morgan Rhys said: “If you are looking to buy or sell or even rent a listed building we can help as we have a great deal of experience in this area.
“Even if you don’t plan to sell but are thinking about renovation or refurbishment opportunities, our planning team can help in terms of planning regulations and applications.”

Visit Historic England to find out if your home is listed.