Safe Deposit Box Housing – A Simple Legal Solution

A question is a dwellinghouse never lived in bought by an investor with no intention of living in it really C3.

All of the sub categories of C3 refer to people actually ‘living’ there.

The question is pertinent because of the blight of what Peter Rees memorably calls ‘safe deposit box’ housing.   Such units are effectively removed from the housing stock, and unable to meet need. People must cram into the remaining dwelling stock.  It is the same as  if it didnt exist.  How then can it meet a supply and how then can the presumption on favour of housing apply?

Unfortunately the law is not on the side of such simple verbal logic.  The courts have held in Moore v. SSCLG [2012] that

there is no requirement that before a building can be described as a dwellinghouse it must be occupied as a permanent home.

This begs the question – can a condition precedent be used?

This has difficulties as these normally state cannot commence until or cannot be occupied until.

But guidance is very clear.

Such conditions should only be used where the local planning authority is satisfied that the requirements of the condition (including the timing of compliance) are so fundamental to the development permitted that it would have been otherwise necessary to refuse the whole permission.

And here it would be to ensure it is lived in to meet the need for places to live, not for empty safety deposit boxes, which are collectibles and serve no need.

I suggest a simple condition precedent.

The development shall not commence or continue in a state of non permanent occupancy for a continuous period of six calender months or greater.  In which case this consent will not commence or will cease (as appropriate).  A state of non-permanent occupancy is defined as a condition where no-one is living at the property as their main place of residence.  This condition shall not apply during a period of mortagee in possession until the property is then sold on or let by a mortgagee in possession.

Reason:  To ensure the property is lived in to meet the need for places to live as set out in the development plan, the London Plan and National Planning Policy.

This avoids I think the very complicated S106 based approach of Islington – Lawyers?

Note Boris’s defense that this is needed for regeneration is preposterous as all it does is push land prices up to bubble levels which will wreck regeneration.


3 thoughts on “Safe Deposit Box Housing – A Simple Legal Solution

  1. Firstly, I would like to note that these “safe deposit boxes” are let out if at all possible…why would an investor deny himself a return??!!
    Secondly, rental properties are valid homes – they house a family unit and take that need out of the system, so they very much count toward supply.
    Lastly I would point out, that the proposed condition cannot work regardless of the above – you cannot occupy a development until it built (unless you own a tent), and once it is built, what use is the 6 month deadline to occupy, given it is already there? No consequences for failing to sell or rent out in that time.

    • The consequences are the authorised use ceases or is never occupied – simples. It can be CPOd at its lawful use – null. The land is worthless. How is it relevent in planning law that a building cannot be occupied until it is built – untrue anyway just watch Grand Designs apeople living on plots in caravans?
      Its a strsw man argument re rented homes, safe depoist box unist arnt rented, ever, and if you deny they exist just go to Vauxhall Tower and One Hyde Park and tellme how many of the boxes there are rented out?

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