I have fallen in love with a house on the market, but the owner seems to have built a large extension without planning permission. They have now applied for retrospective permission, but its not yet granted. Is there a risk to me if I buy the property?

There will be a risk for you if you purchase the property without the retrospective planning permission. There are four possible scenarios here.

Firstly if your seller actually applied for planing permission and it was refused, but they built the extension regardless, the local authority has the power to serve and enforcement notice on the owner of the house, which could be you - if you buy it without the retrospective planning permission. This notice will dictate what you then have to do with the extension.

Secondly, the local authority can simply refuse to grant the retrospective planning permission altogether, in which case you must remove the extension.They could take that decision if the extension affects public amenity, or has an impact on wildlife or natural habitats. The council will also take your neighbours' interests and wellbeing into consideration before making a decision and this includes rights of privacy and security issues.

A third option for the local authority is to grant retrospective planning permission., but insist on changes to the design, size or even position of the extension. It will be for your seller, or you, if you do buy the property to make these changes and bear the cost.

The fourth scenario is that the local authority grants the retrospective planning permission. However, if you buy the property now, you run a significant risk which could prove very expensive and I would advise against it.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.