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My girlfriend and I are renting a flat, it includes two parking spaces on a private communal car park. we've been renting this for over two years. the rent itself is higher then other places we looked at but as it included parking we decided to take it as parking is very limited around us. it IS included in our lease agreement.

the car park currently takes 16 cars, and this is split between 8 properties each entitled to 2 spaces, there are 4 "cottages" and a building containing 4 flats (of which we are renting one of them)

A friend of mine just looked at buying one of the cottages which comes with two of the aforementioned parking spaces, however his conveyancing turned up something interesting... there is actually no specified spaces on the communal car park each property has a 1/8th share, with the landlord of the flats owning 4/8ths of it. this is fine as the car park fits 16 cars so it still works out.

However

When the conveyance checked, the car park actually only has 12 parking spaces according to the council plans, 12 obviously doesn't divide nicely between 8... it so happens that OUR spaces are actually where there is supposed to be a turning area, so in theory we are not parking in actual spaces... and yet we've been paying for those two spaces included in our rent.

I've quietly checked with the other flat owners and they all have 2 spaces included in their rent agreement same as we do.

Am I right in assuming that the landlord is illegally charging rent for something he doesn't own?

Edit for clarification: we found out due to my friend having one of the cottages conveyanced, as a result we also found out that the Landlord is entirely aware of this situation, i'm not currently asking about whether we're entitled to compensation. My friend wants the cottage, but without the parking sorted its not suitable, my Landlord is not bothered about signing any paperwork to sort it (at no cost other than time) because "it works fine at the moment whats the problem?" i just want to help my friend so want to know if what the Landlord is doing is actually illegal (renting out more spaces than he actually owns) or is it a grey area as there is technically space

Further Edit: the car park is owned by the 5 properties, 4 cottages and 1 building of 4 flats, the landlord owns 4/8ths each of the cottages own 1/8th

Hope that makes more sense

This is in the UK

  • Needs clarification about your actual complaint. If you are saying that you are able to park (which you couldn't if not for your lease) but the spaces you use are not those you pay for, so that you park in someone else's space and someone else parks in yours: so what? It could be that the conveyances sold 16 out of 12 spaces, in which case the lawyers were at fault; but if you took a lease including two spaces and have actually had the benefit of two spaces, a court would have a hard time determining compensation. Please edit to explain, rather than replying. – Tim Lymington Feb 13 at 13:25
  • When you say it's "private" do you mean that some third party owns the land and leases the space to others, either tenants or the landlord? Who is the actual owner? – user6726 Feb 13 at 16:48
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    It sounds like this may be a planning permission thing. The council will have granted planning permission for 8 residences and 12 parking spaces. Repainting the lines later is probably a violation of the planning permission, but unless the council notices nothing will happen. Of course from a purchasers POV this is an issue because you never know what might happen in the future. – Paul Johnson Feb 13 at 19:53
  • @TimLymington, the issue is that four of the 16 parking spaces don't really exist, for some value of "real". I'm not familiar enough with UK law to tell if this non-existence is a legal issue, or just a mismatch between planning documents and paint on the ground. – Mark Feb 14 at 3:08
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    Are you sure the owner has to stick to the number of spaces on the council plans and cannot just repaint them as he/she pleases? – Greendrake Feb 14 at 9:15
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As Paul Johnson says, this is a planning permission thing. The parking places your landlord has leased you are real; they exist. They just don't have planning permission for all of them.

It's no different to if the landlord got planning permission for a building of four flats, and built a block of six flats. Building those two additional flats would illegal, and the planning authority could take enforcement action against the landlord for it; however, letting those two additional flats out is perfectly legal.

Similarly letting those parking places is legal; it's just that the planning authority may take action against the landlord to force two of the parking places to be removed. At that point the landlord would have to break the contract with the tenants of the parking places, and would be liable for damages.

In practise, unless there are some activist neighbours, the planning authority won't take any enforcement action (spending money on legal action for two parking places is not high on their list of priorities). Even if there are some activist neighbours, they probably won't bother.

Finally, any development becomes lawful after ten years, and if the development is used as dwellings, after four years. It is not clear to me whether the parking spaces would be considered as a separate development to the flats (and hence have a ten year limit), or whether they are ancillary to the dwellings (and hence have a four year limit).

My suspicion is that the landlord was asked to sign an application for a Lawful Development Certificate (which essentially just certifies that the development is out of time for planning enforcement). If so, that means that ... the development is out of time for planning enforcement, so you have no need to worry.

Incidentally, if I am right, your friend doesn't have any need to worry either, and is probably being put off the purchase by an overly cautious conveyancer. (Note: I am not a lawyer, and in particular, I am not your friend's lawyer.)

  • Cheers, that helps, i can at least pass this on to my friend to think about – Blade Wraith Feb 14 at 12:43

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