Family win right to use illegal cottage built in garden

PUBLISHED: 19:03 30 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:15 06 May 2010

A FAMILY have won the right to use a garden cottage as a second home despite claiming the building was not being lived in and no council tax was paid for it. The Yates family let relatives, the Finlays, live in a cottage in their garden for four years wit

A FAMILY have won the right to use a garden cottage as a second home despite claiming the building was not being lived in and no council tax was paid for it.

The Yates family let relatives, the Finlays, live in a cottage in their garden for four years without the district council's knowledge and without paying separate council tax for it.

When the council rejected their claim that the cottage automatically qualified for lawfulness as it had been used for four years, Mr and Mrs Yates, of Roestock Lane, Colney Heath, appealed to an inspector and won.

The couple had convinced the council that the Finlay family was living in the main house with them by stating on the electoral register that they shared the same address.

Then in March last year, Mr and Mrs Yates applied to the council for a certificate of lawfulness for the cottage to be used as a separate house on the grounds of automatic qualification.

The council rejected the application because there was no separate ownership of the property and council tax was not being paid for it.

But Mr and Mrs Yates won their appeal and an independent inspector agreed a certificate of lawful use.

The inspector criticised the council for not knowing that the cottage was being used as a separate house because the two families had separate postal addresses and there was not enough space for both families to be living in the main house.

A council spokesman said they did not know that the Finlays were living in the cottage because the electoral roll showed both families were living in the main house and it was registered for single council tax.

He added that the fact that the families had deliberately withheld information from the council was immaterial to the inspector's findings

The cottage was originally put up as an outbuilding in 1991 at the bottom of the garden by the previous owner without planning permission. In 1995 the council was forced to give it a certificate of lawfulness as an outbuilding because it had been standing for four years but it was not allowed to be used as a separate family home..

District Council Planning Portfolio Holder Cllr Chris Brazier said: "We can't do anything because the inspector has granted it. I am amazed by the inspector.

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