Changes to planning regulations came into force in April 2016, meaning that converting some property from office to residential use can be undertaken without needing planning permission. Landlords are increasingly using bridging loans to finance property conversions.
The exemption from planning permission covers empty or derelict property converted from office or light industrial use, to residential use. Property developers taking advantage of these exemptions have transformed many run-down commercial districts and provided much needed rented accommodation.
There are also planning regulation exemptions to convert property into houses of multiple occupancy for up to six unrelated tenants.
Another update to the planning regulations means that small changes such as building a porch, converting loft space and putting in dormer windows can be undertaken without planning permission.
Doug Hall, writing for the Residential Landlord Association website in May 2017, said that in the first few months of 2017 there has been an increase in the number of bridging loan applications for converting property. Bridging finance is available to both purchase property and fund conversions.
After conversion, the property can be sold on for a profit and the bridging loan can be repaid. If the property owner wants to rent out the property, a longer-term commercial buy-to-let mortgage can be arranged and the bridging loan repaid.
When planning conversions, it is advisable for property owners to check with their local authority to confirm that their proposed conversion is exempt from the need for planning permission.