Do I need to change the title deeds of my home if I convert my attic?
Lenders are keen to ensure their security is enforceable in the event of mortgage default
You may need consent from your bank before making a planning application or altering your home.
We are converting our attic to non-habitable storage which requires planning permission, which we have. The outside wall needs to be built up to construct a Dutch hip roof as the current roof is apex. We’ve just been told by the bank that we have to employ a solicitor to change the title deeds of the house.
Our neighbour got the same work done on their home and didn’t have to meet this requirement from their bank, and anyone else we have spoken to in our area hasn’t done anything of the sort. Is our bank correct to make this request? I’m asking this as the cost of retaining a solicitor is going to push the price of having the job done way beyond our budget.
Your lender will always be keen to ensure that its security over your home remains enforceable and that your house is saleable in the event that you default on your mortgage.
You may not be aware that under the terms and conditions of most mortgages you are required to obtain the consent of your bank before making any planning application or carrying out any alterations to your property. In practice this condition is observed more in the breach than the performance, but nonetheless it still exists and all that is required is a letter from your lender bank confirming its consent to the conversion.
The fact that you have told the bank about the work to your home suggests that you may have applied for a home improvement loan or a top-up on your mortgage and if so the bank may well make it a condition of any such loan that the title be certified by your solicitor.
If you are not applying for a home improvement loan or a top-up on your mortgage then there should not be a need to involve your solicitor in the process.
If your home is a terrace property, an apartment or a property which relies on a neighbouring or adjoining property for support or easements, your title may be subject to a covenant that you will obtain the consent of the adjoining owner or a management company prior to making any alterations to a party wall or a feature that is common to both properties. You will need to read your title (or check if you have a lease of easements) but generally if the property is a stand-alone freehold property or even a semi-detached property, this would not arise. If any of your neighbours have carried out similar work without objection, then consent does not appear to be required in your situation. Nobody appears to have objected to your planning application?
It is important that whatever work you do is done in compliance with the terms of the planning permission. The work should be supervised by your engineer or architect and once completed you should obtain a certificate of compliance with planning permission and building regulations from your engineer/architect. This original certificate of compliance can be sent by you to the legal and securities department of the bank to be held with the rest of the title documents for your house.
Samantha Geraghty is a solicitor with P O’Connor & Son Solicitors, Swinford, Co Mayo, poconsol.ie