Can you Legally Live in a Commercial Property in Croydon?

Living in commercial property may be an unusual thought, but the fact is that the popularity of office-based living is actually on the rise. In London, where over 4 per cent of existing office space is vacant and prices for residential property are high, taking up residence in commercial property has become quite a popular move. But is it legal to live in commercial property, in Croydon or elsewhere? Read on as we address this question and various other considerations that need to be made.

The availability of vacant office space may have been on the wane since 2009, but 4.4 per cent of it is still empty, according to Statista. Considering the fact that the average house price in London has escalated from £250,000 in 2009 to around £500,000 in 2020, it is no wonder that the idea of buying a commercial property to live in has crossed the minds of many.

And it's not just the availability factor. Commercial property is also versatile. Those expansive, open-plan spaces make ideal blank canvases for the open-minded, creative individual who wants to put their imaginative stamp on their home.

Office space is relatively straightforward to convert. With the growing trend for industrial interiors and a mounting desire for 'live-work' space, it's becoming clear just why there is a distinct move towards buying office space for residential use.

But what to consider before investing in commercial property to convert into living space?

Important considerations when buying a commercial property for residential use

If a property has not been officially granted residential status, then the buildings insurance will not cover residential use. This is very serious because should there be a fire or a flood, or some other disaster, there will be no way to claim the damage. What's more, buildings insurance is a requirement if you have a mortgage on a property.

To legally live in a property designated for commercial use, the status of the building must be changed. It is not just a case of purchase, renovate and move in. There is some red tape to contend with first.

Property change of use from commercial to residential

If you purchase a building that is registered as commercial property, then you may need to obtain planning permission before you go ahead and convert it to residential accommodation. It is, however, worth checking whether such planning permission is already in place, as some commercial property for sale comes complete with the necessary permissions.

If it's not in place, then you will need to apply to your council's local planning authority, for which there will be a charge.

Do bear in mind that you may need a special kind of planning permission to create a live/work space for dual-use. This conversion will depend upon the type of work you are going to carry out on the premises.

It is also important to keep in mind that any works carried out without the necessary planning permission could be considered a planning breach, leading to legal and financial ramifications.

Permitted Development Rights

Planning permission is not always necessary when converting commercial office space into residential living accommodation.

Since 2013, Permitted Development Rights legislation has allowed some types of commercial property to be converted to residential without planning permission. Such property types may include offices, light industrial premises (e.g. factories, workshops and warehouses), and shops and other properties no larger than 150 square metres. This is because these types of property tend to be located in residential areas.

Do be careful, however. Significant works may still need local council approval, even if Permitted Development Rights apply.

Renovation conditions

You may find that the local planning authority places conditions on renovations, depending on the type of property involved.

Such conditions could involve set timescales for the work. Make sure you are clear on any guidelines set down by planning, as mistakes can be costly to rectify.

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Corinthian House is an iconic building situated in the heart of Croydon. With an array of modern features on offer, including showers, locker rooms, a communal kitchen, meeting rooms and high-speed internet, it presents an attractive opportunity for any business considering Croydon as their first or next office location.

Why not talk to our dedicated team today to find out how a serviced office at Corinthian House could work for your business? We look forward to showing you around.