Why it is wise to obtain permission for replacement windows for your flat

If you own your own flat or are tenant in a block of flats or flat landlord, it is dreadfully unwise to change any of your windows or external doors without first making sure you’ve got all the necessary permissions, as you can end up paying out considerably more than you paid for the replacement windows the first time round. place. Almost worse if the amount of your time you will need to spend dealing with all the hassle and paperwork that comes with a planning enforcement notice from your local authority or legal documents sent to you by your Management Company.

You need to be aware that it is ultimately the flat owners responsibility to obtain the necessary planning permission from the local authority, whether the block of flats is in a Conservation Area or not. Also each flat owner needs to obtain written permission from the freeholder and/or their Management Company. So if you are a tenant and want to change the windows, you’ll need planning permission, your landlords approval and permission from the property’s Management Company.

The reason local councils require planning permission is because no flat in any block of flats has any Permitted Development Rights, so amazing as it seems, flat owners do not have the right to change their windows without first obtaining planning permission. These legal rules are in place to help the council’s planning department keep control on the types, materials and designs of windows being replaced. Once you approach your local authority, you’ll find your council will probably require your replacement windows to be “in-keeping” and to be of “similar appearance”.

Block of Residential Flats With Matching Replacement Windows
Block of Residential Flats With Matching Double Glazed Replacement Windows

Unfortunately what some flat owners think of as similar, may not be what the local planning officer considers to be similar. You need to appreciate that your local council have the legal right to force you to replace any windows you’ve had fitted that you’ve not obtained planning permission for if they don’t agree they are “similar”. For example, if your flat is above first floor level, and you’ve had internally beaded replacement windows fitted from the inside, but the council turn round and say they require externally beaded windows to match the other externally beaded windows already in the block of flats, then scaffolding will be required to enable replacement window installer to safely and legally replace the windows. Councils are in the habit of issuing a Planning Enforcement Notice to any flat owner they come across who has changed their windows without planning permission. Whilst retrospective planning permission can be sought, there is no guarantee your local planning department will grant this, and eventually you will have to replace all the replacement windows at your own cost.

Also, not getting permission from the Management Company can lead to long term disputes with them and other flat owners in the same block, which can lead to major problems when your flat is being sold, as they have the right to refuse to process the flat sale until any issues caused by unapproved windows have been resolved to their satisfaction.

If a block of flats is in a Conservation Area and your local Council have served an “Article 4” notice on the property, no flat owner can replace the windows without getting two planning permissions. One for ensuring removing the article 4 conservation order on changing the windows and one for actually fitting replacement windows.

Property owners of terraced, semi-detached and detached dwelling houses with Permitted Development Rights intact don’t have to seek any form of planning permission as long as their properties are not Grade I or II Listed, or in a Conservation Area or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Green Belt etc.

The ideal situation is when buying or renting a flat in the first place is to select one where modern low maintenance double glazed windows already exist throughout, so you benefit from their thermal efficiency, their sound insulation, plus avoid having to pay the Management Company for having to paint them on a regular basis.


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