Property experts warn homeworkers over planning permission – even if you’re not building

The Property Show hosts discuss working from home in trailer

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Property experts Louisa Fletcher and Andrew Montlake returned for another episode of their podcast, The Property Show. This week the pair discussed everything from mortgages to house prices. Ms Fletcher also talked about how working from home might impact your insurance and how you could need planning permission, even if you’re not building.

Mr Montlake discussed the return of the 95 percent mortgage and why they are not just for first time buyers.

The Property Show podcast aims to help homeowners and renters make money, save money and protect themselves.

Ms Fletcher said she had received some data from one of the UK’s largest insurers, Aviva.

The company had recently conducted a study of people who are working from home.

She said: “They’ve discovered of the thousands of people they spoke to, that 48 percent work from a table or desk room that’s usually used for another purpose.

“For example, a dining room or a bedroom.

“Twenty-two percent of those working from home do so sitting on their sofa or from an armchair.

“And 14 percent said they work from bed.”

Ms Fletcher said this has meant there has been a rise in the number of “shoffices” otherwise known as “shed offices”.

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According to Aviva, 43 percent of the people they surveyed are planning to set up a designated room or workspace in their home going forward.

A lot of people are apparently considering a “shed arrangement”.

Ms Fletcher, who is also a property writer, said there are two main things homeworkers need to think about; planning permission and insurance.

She said planning permission is because people would assume that you only need planning permission if you’re building something but “that’s not strictly true”.

She continued: “If you’re working from home, in an administrational capacity and you’re an employee, chances are it’s absolutely fine.

“It’s if you own your own business that things get a little bit more interesting.

“Particularly, if it involves clients coming to your property regularly.”

Ms Fletcher said examples of that include if you run a beauty or hairdressing business from home or a child-care service.

If you have changed or adapted your property to fulfil your business then you may need planning permission.

The property expert said to speak to your local council to explain to them what you want to do and they will advise you if you need to apply for what’s called a certificate of lawful use.

Another issue Ms Fletcher mentioned is if you live in a leasehold property.

She said: “If you own a flat and if you are running a business from home.

“That would mean that your home address is your registered office address.

“Something that does catch people out is that you may need your freeholder’s permission for that.

“You do need to check that. It comes down to the distinction between working from home and running a business from home.”

Gareth Hemming, MD of Personal Lines at Aviva said: “Flexible working and home-working practices have been around for some time, but they have really come into their own in the last year.

“Many employees report they have been less stressed and more productive as a result of working from home.

“They have had the flexibility to work around their personal lives and they have been trusted to work in a way which suits them.

“While home-working is not the choice of every individual, we are likely to see more flexibility as a basic benchmark for the future, with many people working remotely, at least some of the time.

“Many insurance providers adapted their home products during the pandemic to allow people to work from home without making any changes to their policies, but if customers are unsure about their cover, they should speak to their insurer to check that it is suitable for their circumstances.”

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