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When is an Annexe Not an Annexe?

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 19 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Annexe Extension Planning Entrance

Planning issues with any extension build project have the potential to be complicated but when considering an annexe, there are several points to take into account.

Whether a property already has an existing, interconnecting 'granny' annexe, a completely separate unit or whether the plan is to separate part of the home to potentially let it, the configuration can all make a big difference to how a Local Planning Authority is likely to view the situation - as well as what the owner wishes to do with it.

Definition of an Annexe

An annexe is defined in planning guidance notes as:
Accommodation which is ancillary to the main residential dwelling and used for this purpose. It may be interconnecting within the property as a whole (for instance via doorways) or it may be accessed via a completely separate external entrance, but if it forms separate and additional accommodation for the main house, it will be viewed as an annexe.

Council Tax and Annexes

Contrary to popular belief, a home does not have to have a separate entrance or front door to be liable for a separate council tax charge. The Valuations Office, a branch of HMRC and the department responsible for setting Council Tax on properties, deems an annexe to be liable for separate banding if it could be classed as a self-contained unit - i.e. it has its own kitchen area, bathroom and sleeping/living space - even if it shares other services and entrances with the main house. Two sets of Council Tax could be levied if a property has an annex, so you'll need to consider that if you are:

  1. building an annexe
  2. buying a house with an annexe
  3. designing an extension to include an annexe

You may be able to apply for a 'Class T' exemption to the second amount of tax if it is possible to prove that the annexe is :

  • for sole family use
  • for someone who is substantially mentally or physically disabled
  • for a relative over the age of 65

Flexibility of an Annexe

Annexes seem to have grown in popularity over recent years as they are a relatively simple way of utilising a home or extension in the most flexible way. For some, they can provide a useful extra income through renting out the additional space whilst for others, an annexe can provide future security as families plan for ageing relatives and 'boomerang' children who return to live at home after university.

Letting an Annexe

What is crucial, however, is to be clear as to how the annexe may be used right at the planning stage. If the annexe is to be commercially let at any time, then Change of Use Planning will be required and it varies hugely from LPA to LPA (Local Planning Authority) as to how such projects are viewed. Back in 2012, there was talk of permission being scrapped for annexes but so far nothing has happened and it is vital to check with the council before commencing any work. Detail of exactly what is permitted can be found on page 40 of the government guidance notes: Permitted Development for Householders - Technical Guidance.

Wider Implications of Letting an Annexe

It follows that if the annexe is to be let, then there will be further implications and responsibilities to consider. The mortgage lender will need to be informed and again, depending on the provider,attitudes will vary as to whether they look favourably on this or not. Insurance will also need to be checked as some home insurance companies, such as Direct Line, don't take on residential landlord's insurance and of course there will be tax implications from the resulting revenue stream in renting the property.

Becoming a Landlord should not be taken lightly and it would be wise to consider legal obligations such as gas safety checks, fire regulations and access to the annexe at an early planning stage as it could mean expensive alterations to the house as a whole.

Letting Rooms within the Home

If the property already has an 'internal' annexe - i.e. it isn't completely separate from the main house but has its own bathroom, then one option available, in consideration of any extension build plans, is to let the rooms to a lodger. This is certainly possible - and financially very beneficial - under the Government's Rent-a-Room scheme. This scheme allows a person to earn up to £4200 per annum tax free by letting out a portion of their home. What is clear, however, is that:
  • The owner of the property must be living at the home
  • The property owner must have regular access to the lodger's area
  • The kitchen must be shared. If the annexe section has its own kitchen and is separable from the main part of the house then this, under council legislation, is deemed to need separate planning.

An annexe then, can be a flexible, useful and potentially profitable addition to a home - but it can also bring with it a minefield of red tape - mainly between the Valuations office and the Planning office - and could saddle the home owner with the unanticipated role and responsibilities of acting as Landlord. So before making any plans to buy, build or alter a property with an annexe, it is important to have that conversation with the Local Planning Authority first.

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Annex - Your Question:
We are in the process of trying to buy a home with a small old barn in the back garden which at some point has been converted to extra living accomodation. It contains a lounge, shower room, and upstairs a bedroom. The current owners have stated verbally that the original conversion was completed about 30 years ago and that they have fitted new windows, new different staircase and new shower room. They have been asked repeatedly (by our solicitor) for the past 8 weeks to supply written information about this and have as yet failed to do so. We have no evidence of any planning or building regs, or proof of when the conversion was done. Any advice on the implications if we went ahead with the purchase would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
Has your solicitor run a check with the local planning & building control department? Sorry it's not clear. This should clarify whether permission was granted or not. If planning permission was not granted and the seller can provide no evidence of a conversion date etc, there is not much you can do except to get a surveyor to look at it very carefully. If no planning permission was granted (and if it was required) originally, it may not need permission as it's been in place for 10 years. That doesn't help you with any details of how well constructed/building regs compliant the extension is of course; a good survey should help though.
ExtensionBuild - 26-Jul-17 @ 11:55 AM
We are in the process of trying to buy a home with a small old barn in the back garden which at some point has been converted to extra living accomodation. It contains a lounge, shower room, and upstairs a bedroom. The current owners have stated verbally that the original conversion was completed about 30 years ago and that they have fitted new windows, new different staircase and new shower room. They have been asked repeatedly (by our solicitor) for the past 8 weeks to supply written information about this and have as yet failed to do so. We have no evidence of any planning or building regs, or proof of when the conversion was done. Any advice on the implications if we went ahead with the purchase would be greatly appreciated.
Annex - 19-Jul-17 @ 7:07 PM
I had an old garage at the bottom of my garden which I knocked down and built a garden annexe,( which the council call an ancillary) .I got planning permission to build it.It has a lounge,bedroom,bathroom and utility room .I was not allowed a kitchen.The utilities run from the main house.I pay £150 council tax a month.My daughter lived in it for a while but now it's empty.I want to know if I can rent it as it has been empty now for over a year.
Lulu - 9-Jul-17 @ 11:50 PM
Adding to my last point, a test of "bricks and mortar" has been used by courts in deciding that an annex still exists once the kitchen is removed, saying that the zone is capable of being self contained by virtue of bricks and mortar (having its own front door - perversly does not related to the rest of the house - see my last post). These days three story houses may have a fire door on the landing as part of health and safety regulations. That in many cases makes a bricks and mortar case for the top floor being deemed an annex. Yet another point, when first installed, the annex attracted only 50% council tax when empty and since the rest of the house had had a banding reduction due to the reduction in size, the total council tax was not alot more than as a single property. Now the charge is 100% and could be more.
Bren - 1-Jun-17 @ 12:33 PM
I have an annex on the top floor of our three story home. We have not let it in over ten years because of young children in our family being exposed to strangers and of the loss of privacy in general- a lodger/tenant or holiday maker would have to come past our bedroom and toilet doors. The annex is self contained though we have always reserved the right to enter for access to the loft. The point, I want to make is that when I asked, "Trading Standards" a few years ago (considering living abroad for a while), they said that I could not describe the rest of the house as self contained if I wanted to let it. However, the local authority take the contrary view. A question is, what will HMRC consider it to be when selling for the purposes of capital gains tax?
Bren - 1-Jun-17 @ 12:23 PM
Pete - Your Question:
We extended our detached garage and turned it into an Anex with its own front door 8 years ago it has a bedroom a bathroom & kitchen all without planning permission is it too late for them to tell us to knock it down and should we get something called indemnity insurance? And could we let it out now. I would love an answer thank you

Our Response:
In general where there has been a breach of planning control relating to the change of use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date of the breach. In the case of any other breach of planning control, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach. If you cannot prove the bulding has been used as a dwelling for the past four years then it may be difficult to avoid enforcement. Indeminty insurance might help but you'd need to seek advice from a professional before proceeding.
ExtensionBuild - 30-May-17 @ 12:37 PM
We extended our detached garage and turned it into an Anex with its own front door 8years agoit has a bedroom a bathroom & kitchen all without planning permission is it too late for them to tell us to knock it downand should we get something called indemnity insurance?And could we let it out now.I would love an answer thank you
Pete - 27-May-17 @ 4:05 PM
We converted part of our detached garage eight years ago into an annex with a kitchen-loungewith separate bathroom and a bedroom for my partners children to stay in when visiting. They've grown up nowand don't really stop over so we want to rent it out.Can we do that and what is the procedure be with council tax &planning? Thank you
Sharon - 26-May-17 @ 12:17 PM
Banksy - Your Question:
Question: We own a detached house which has a separate outbuilding to the side of the driveway some 80 metres away from the house.The building was originally an old boiler house and we upgraded it in 2008 to provide additional living / guest accommodation. The work was notified and accepted as permitted development rights. The building has a kitchenette and a WC / shower room. It currently relies on services (water, drains, electrics) from the main house. Building regs were obtained at the time of conversion. We are interested in selling off this land and the building as a separate dwelling. We would have to get separate independent connection for water and electricity. There would be no change to access. I assume we would have to apply for planning permission. Is this likely to be a major process and what objections might be considered? Is it likely we will obtain permission? What are the pitfalls?Thanks

Our Response:
Yes you will need to apply for planning permission - issues considered will be: access; safety; neighbour consultation; whether it fits in with the local development plan; visual/amenity aspects etc . The property will need to be registered separately with the land registry and for council tax/separate postal address etc. Consider financial implications such as capital gains tax too.
ExtensionBuild - 26-May-17 @ 11:16 AM
Question: We own a detached house which has a separate outbuilding to the side of the driveway some 80 metres away from the house. The building was originally an old boiler house and we upgraded it in 2008 to provide additional living / guest accommodation. The work was notified and accepted as permitted development rights. The building has a kitchenette and a WC / shower room. It currently relies on services (water, drains, electrics) from the main house. Building regs were obtained at the time of conversion. We are interested in selling off this land and the building as a separate dwelling. We would have to get separate independent connection for water and electricity. There would be no change to access. I assume we would have to apply for planning permission. Is this likely to be a major process and what objections might be considered? Is it likely we will obtain permission? What are the pitfalls? Thanks
Banksy - 24-May-17 @ 9:56 AM
We are thinking of purchasing a bungalow that has an attached self-contained annexe with bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room. It has its own front door but is also accessible through one of the bedrooms. If we take out the kitchen, which we will not need, will council tax still be payable? I believe that council tax is paid on it at the moment. We intend to use the annexe purely as additional living space for ourselves.
Chrissie - 30-Apr-17 @ 1:05 AM
We built a self contained annex 12 years ago my parents occupied it until recently and it was exempt from council tax because of their age. when it became unoccupied at xmas the council told us that as it couldn't be rented out or sold separately it would be exempt under class T( Empty- annex to an occupied dwelling. We had to empty it, I've read that I can pay half the council tax and use it for sole family use as part of the main house but council are telling me no unless some one lives there I can't use our annex at all. Can you advise me?
TB - 12-Apr-17 @ 2:42 PM
Orman77 - Your Question:
I have done an extension which is called annexe. We already had planning permission from the council. Inside we have one bedroom and one bathroom. The kitchen and living room consists in the same are. It also has a separate entrance because my son lives there. The council tax was £1728. I already pay £1900 for my house. I want to ask if that price is normal for a small annexe because it seems considerably high. Thanks

Our Response:
Check this out with your local council or your valuation office. A 50% discount should be available for properties with self-contained annexes occupied by family members.
ExtensionBuild - 12-Apr-17 @ 12:21 PM
I have done an extension which is called annexe. We already had planning permission from the council. Inside we have one bedroom and one bathroom. The kitchen and living room consists in the same are. It also has a separate entrance because my son lives there. The council tax was £1728. I already pay £1900 for my house. I want to ask if that price is normal for a small annexe because it seems considerably high. Thanks
Orman77 - 10-Apr-17 @ 9:12 PM
Jam103 - Your Question:
My mum has just had a log cabin built in her garden. It is for her use and we will be having the main house. The utilities run off the main house. Is this classed as an annex and will she be liable for Council Tax. She has registered it with the council, it has it's own name but shares the address and entrance with the main house, i.e. its address would be for example, Cabin, Main House, Road etc. She has not heard back from the council yet.

Our Response:
Yes it's likely the log cabin will require its own Council Tax banding if it's to be used as separate accommodation. You will also need planning permission for this.
ExtensionBuild - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:08 PM
My mum has just had a log cabin built in her garden.It is for her use and we will be having the main house.The utilities run off the main house.Is this classed as an annex and will she be liable for Council Tax.She has registered it with the council, it has it's own name but shares the address and entrance with the main house, i.e. its address would be for example, Cabin, Main House, Road etc.She has not heard back from the council yet.
Jam103 - 22-Mar-17 @ 5:03 PM
We're hoping to buy a house and convert its garage (which is part of the main building and accessible from the rest of the house) into a self-contained living space with shower room and kitchenette to rent out. This would involve replacing the garage door with a front door and window. Are there any pitfalls we need to look out for? Would there be council tax implications? Thanks!
Matt - 20-Mar-17 @ 1:50 PM
Hi, I'm in the midst of converting part of my property to create a separate living space for my 85 year old mother.The plans State 'the annex is to be occupied only in conjunction to the original property, and shall not be let, sold, or used as a separate living space'. The space consists of a lounge, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. It has its own entrance, but there is an internal doorway connecting the annex kitchen, to the main house kitchen. My question is whether we can charge my Mum rent under the rent a room scheme?Also, she currently gets help with her rent from the local council, would she be able to continue to get this help?Would these arrangements cause the council to reassess the type of use? Many thanks
Deb - 7-Mar-17 @ 8:59 AM
Justwondering - Your Question:
£5000 bill for 5 – 6 years of outstanding council tax bill!, due to the Landlord not registering the property with the local council. The valuer is coming on behalf of the council this week, therefore within 28 days I assume I will be presented with a rather large outstanding council tax bill.Edited :- I am based in England.We have already been told by the council that regardless of the original contract signed with the landlord, the tenant will be billed for the council tax, this I accept will be the case and I have the funds to pay the bill in full.My contract appears to state that the Landlord would cover the costs of the council tax as detailed in the original tenancy agreement contract.I also have copies of all the original email correspondence from 2011 from the letting agent, clearing stating :- (Cut and Paste from the email) :-“The property has electric heating, no gas but yes, council tax & water areIncluded in the rent. You only need to pay for electricity and telephone.”Do I have a small claims court case if required to reclaim funds from my landlord for the costs of the council tax bill based on one of the terms and conditions in the original signed agreement?Thoughts, opinions and advice please:- I have tried to keep my post as concise as possible while attempting to include as much background history as possible.I signed a contract with my current landlord back in 2011 one bedroom self-contained small converted barn / granny annex, located on my landlords land, it is not attached to his main house, but is attached to his workshop/garage, I was told the money paid each month £500 included all the bills and costs, except, electric, phone and broadband, I read the contract and it appears that the council tax cost are detailed and part of the contract and for my landlord to cover that cost.Fast forward 5 years and Due to me registering to vote for Brexit back in 2016 , this has led to the current situation , An estimated incoming bill of just over £5000 for 5 years unpaid council tax , due to the landlord not registering the small building on his land that I reside in, the landlord is pleading ignorance and he assumed the 2nd building was included as part his council tax bill , he has offered to pay half of the arrears….I was told when I moved it , all council tax costs where included in full.There is a term and condition that appears to states the landlord would deal with the council tax (advice required), ultimately can I reclaim the amount through the small claims court, the cost of the council tax as it appears under contract the landlord has agreed to foot that particular bill at his cost during my tenancy.Please note the contract signed was via a professional high street letting agent, with a full terms and conditions assured shorthold tenancy agreement and at a suitable local market value based on certain bills been included.Clause (2b) has been typed and copied verbatim.

Our Response:
If you have a copy of the contract and it states that council tax is included in the rent then you shouldn't have to pay it. We suggest you seek legal advice as to the best way forward on this. You may be able to agree some sort of settlement with your landlord - such as reduced rent for the next 12 mothns etc.
ExtensionBuild - 7-Feb-17 @ 2:22 PM
£5000 bill for 5 – 6 years of outstanding council tax bill!, due to the Landlord not registering the property with the local council. The valuer is coming on behalf of the council this week, therefore within 28 days I assume I will be presented with a rather large outstanding council tax bill. Edited :- I am based in England. We have already been told by the council that regardless of the original contract signed with the landlord, the tenant will be billed for the council tax, this I accept will be the case and I have the funds to pay the bill in full. My contract appears to state that the Landlord would cover the costs of the council tax as detailed in the original tenancy agreement contract. I also have copies of all the original email correspondence from 2011 from the letting agent, clearing stating :- (Cut and Paste from the email) :- “The property has electric heating, no gas but yes, council tax & water are Included in the rent. You only need to pay for electricity and telephone.” Do I have a small claims court case if required to reclaim funds from my landlord for the costs of the council tax bill based on one of the terms and conditions in the original signed agreement? Thoughts, opinions and advice please:- I have tried to keep my post as concise as possible while attempting to include as much background history as possible. I signed a contract with my current landlord back in 2011 one bedroom self-contained small converted barn / granny annex, located on my landlords land, it is not attached to his main house, but is attached to his workshop/garage, I was told the money paid each month £500 included all the bills and costs, except, electric, phone and broadband, I read the contract and it appears that the council tax cost are detailed and part of the contract and for my landlord to cover that cost. Fast forward 5 years and Due to me registering to vote for Brexit back in 2016 , this has led to the current situation , An estimated incoming bill of just over £5000 for 5 years unpaid council tax , due to the landlord not registering the small building on his land that I reside in, the landlord is pleading ignorance and he assumed the 2nd building was included as part his council tax bill , he has offered to pay half of the arrears….I was told when I moved it , all council tax costs where included in full. There is a term and condition that appears to states the landlord would deal with the council tax (advice required), ultimately can I reclaim the amount through the small claims court, the cost of the council tax as it appears under contract the landlord has agreed to foot that particular bill at his cost during my tenancy. Please note the contract signed was via a professional high street letting agent, with a full terms and conditions assured shorthold tenancy agreement and at a suitable local market value based on certain bills been included. Clause (2b) has been typed and copied verbatim.
Justwondering - 6-Feb-17 @ 5:55 PM
We bought a property with a barn conversion which is attached to the main house via a utility room. We were provided details from planning and building regs it was all signed off as integral to the main house. However, both parts of the property can be and we're used independently by the previous owners as both are self contained. Council tax was only ever charged for three decades as a single dwelling but last week we received a letter from the VOA stating we have an annex and now have to pay two council taxes. First time in its history since the conversion in the 1980s and upgrade in 2010 for an additional bedroom. As we have no choice in the matter we might as well holiday let to pay for it!! If we keep to no more than 90 days we understand we don't require any change in planning permission - is this correct? Or should we still do a pre app for change of use? Feedback please.
JM - 4-Feb-17 @ 7:56 PM
Hi If you split a house or bungalow in to two separate dwellings do you have to separate the utilities for legal or mortgage purposes as I have been told that until they are separated it would not be a freehold property and so will be unmortgagable.
Moggie - 24-Jan-17 @ 2:49 PM
Our house was built on a slope in 1971 with 2 storeys on the South side and a partial lower storey apartment facing North. All power (gas & electricity) water and sewerage is supplied to the building via the North-facing ground floor 'apartment' which we use occasionally to accommodate friends or family and, although we pay separate council tax, this space has never been let on a commercial basis. We're hoping to downsize but we were shocked to hear that our 'extra accommodation/granny flat' (which we've always seen as an asset!) is suddenly a hellish curse for potential buyers!? Many thanks - all advice will be appreciated!.
Woodlandfolk - 14-Jan-17 @ 11:12 PM
We live on a small holding, in a log cabin, which is an annexe to the main house. Our cabin is 3 bedroom with full kitchen/bathroom etc. It is a completely separate building to the main house....with its own enclosed garden. My dad lives in the main house, and myself, husband and children live in the cabin. The cabin has been here for 12 years. We have own electricity and water, with separate bills. Own driveway. 5 years ago my dad gave us the land to the small holding and to which the cabin is built on, but kept the land yo his house and garden. So we own the land to the cabin, however the cabin itself is still 'part' of the house. We would now like to separate the cabin from the house, so it is its own property. Initial enquiries to council have come back negative, as they say it would be classed as a new build in the countryside.... Is this worth pursuing do you think, or will it never be separated?! Thanks
Ma larkin - 2-Jan-17 @ 7:33 AM
Pete - Your Question:
Hi we are looking to purchase a semi detached property that has an annexe at the bottom of the garden with its own kitchen, bathroom. Permission is currently being granted to use the annexe as a family unit so an elderly relative can live in there however we would quite like to let it out to earn money from it. The title deeds say we can only hold one family member in there although we may be able to put a lodger in there instead, the only trouble we have is there is a rule to say the annexe mustn't have a kitchen and the lodger must have access to ours in the home. Are there anyways around this rule as it seems silly ripping the kitchen out and a longer walking up our garden to share ours.

Our Response:
Is this a clause in the title deeds or a condition of planning permission?
ExtensionBuild - 8-Dec-16 @ 1:53 PM
Hi we are looking to purchase a semi detached property that has an annexe at the bottom of the garden with its own kitchen, bathroom. Permission is currently being granted to use the annexe as a family unit so an elderly relative can live in there however we would quite like to let it out to earn money from it. The title deeds say we can only hold one family member in there although we may be able to put a lodger in there instead, the only trouble we have is there is a rule to say the annexe mustn't have a kitchen and the lodger must have access to ours in the home. Are there anyways around this rule as it seems silly ripping the kitchen out and a longer walking up our garden to share ours...
Pete - 7-Dec-16 @ 12:01 AM
Hi folks, Looking for a bit of advice - I'm interested in buying a semi detached house which has a self contained flat in the basement that the owner created for their eldest. I've since discovered this attracts its own council tax fee, as a flat. I have no interest in having a flat and want to use it as a kids play room. It has a kitchenette, shower and lounge (currently with a bed) and the access is from a door opening in to the garden. Can anybody advise me on what I would need to do in order to return it to a room in the house, as far as the council tax is concerned? I would like to keep the shower if possible. Thank you!
Gmb27 - 27-Oct-16 @ 7:01 PM
Annex7 - Your Question:
HiI am looking at converting part of my house into an annex for my a relative (over 65)The annex utilities (oil heating, electric, water) will remain as one with the main house.The annex itself will have its own external access and will not have any internal access to the main house and will consist of:1 x Kitchen1 x Living area1 x Staircase1 x Bedroom1 x Bathroom I am wondering if planning is required as there will not be any extension, the property is in South Wales not sure if this impacts the planning implications.Thanks

Our Response:
You may require planning consent as you are changing the use of the building by the addition (or dividing part of the existing property off) of a completely separate living accommodation.
ExtensionBuild - 25-Oct-16 @ 2:37 PM
Hi I am looking at converting part of my house into an annex for my a relative (over 65) The annex utilities (oil heating, electric, water) will remain as one with the main house. The annex itself will have its own external access and will not have any internal access to the main house and will consist of: 1 x Kitchen 1 x Living area 1 x Staircase 1 x Bedroom 1 x Bathroom I am wondering if planning is required as there will not be any extension, the property is in South Wales not sure if this impacts the planning implications. Thanks
Annex7 - 24-Oct-16 @ 3:10 PM
Hello everyone, my story is not too off-topic, hopefully. I just moved to the UK for studying purposes. I found nice accomodation but with strings attached.. I live in a small flat, definitely a annexe of the main building but my landlord set me up with a tenancy agreement stating that I am renting a room which I have signed already. Soon, I am going to my responsible Jobcentre to apply for a National Insurance Number. I will tell them the truth about my accomodation drawing probably a lot of anger of my landlord on me. Any advices how to behave except searching something new asap? Did I already break the law when signing the contract as I knew that it I will live in a flat instead of a room? Feeling really confused at the moment :( . Many thanks in advance.
Foreigner123 - 6-Oct-16 @ 9:24 PM
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