Certificate of Lawfulness under the four year rule for the use of a building as 39 flats

Certificate of Lawfulness Issued on 15 February 2024

four year rule

1 Riches Road,

Council: London Borough of Redbridge

This is the biggest ever application we have made for a certificate of lawfulness under the four year rule!

The applicant had created 39 flats without planning permission.

However, the “four-year rule” means that the creation of new dwellings is lawful after a period of four years has passed.

It is a provision set out in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

This rule states that if there’s a breach of planning control in which one or more new dwellings are created, and the new houses and flats have been in use continuously for four years without any enforcement action from the local planning authority, then the development becomes immune from enforcement action.

In simpler terms, after four years, the local planning authority can’t take action to require the removal of the unauthorised development or use.

To establish that the use is lawful under the four year rule, you can apply for a certificate of lawfulness from your local council.

The difficulty is that councils are reluctant to grant these certificates, so you must submit detailed and robust evidence of the use over the four years. The obligation is on the applicant to prove the use, and the council will refuse to issue a certificate if there is any doubt.

In this case, we submitted tenancy agreements, bank statements and reams of other evidence for all of the flats in the development.

We were delighted that Redbridge Council was persuaded of the quality of our evidence and willing to grant permission.

This is one of a large number of successful applications we have won recently, such as this one in 2023, for example.

If you need some advice on the four year rule, contact our team!

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Fill in our form to receive our assessment on your chances of success.

You will also receive a personalised fixed-fee quote for the preparation, submission and management of your appeal.

If you prefer to email, we can be reached at info@just-planning.co.uk.