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Buying unused areas or space in your building

We aim to respond within 10 working days. However, due to a high influx of applications, there may be a delay in our current response time. We'd like to assure you we're processing all applications and will be responding to you as soon as possible

You may live in a house or a block where you've identified a small piece of land, a loft space, laundry room or garden that's not in use and is still owned by Southwark Council.

As the landlord we have discretion to sell these assets if they're not being used and if they don’t have any services or pipework situated in them that we need access to. Selling off these unused areas is also known as an ad-hoc disposal.

If you identify something you think might not be in use and you're considering buying, the council will need to consider the following carefully:

  • if any other person, leaseholder or property owner has rights or needs access to the area
  • if the area contains any shared services or facilities
  • if the council needs to access the area to undertake its maintenance or repair obligations
  • if the area is one that the council wishes to include in a regeneration project
  • if the area is immediately adjacent to your property
  • if there's planned maintenance of development of the area

At this point, you should clearly know why you want to buy the area. For example, if it's a loft space, do you want to do a loft conversion when you own it? Any changes you want to make must have our approval first, as they may be a breach of your lease. Even if you get planning permission or building control approval, you may still not be able to make the changes. You can seek the council’s approval through our permission to alter the process. You can make an ad-hoc and permission application simultaneously, or one after the other.

How much does it cost

There are a number of fees that are payable at various stages of the process. The costs involved in an ad-hoc application are as follows:

  • application fee payable upon submitting an application
  • valuation fee which is payable if it is agreed the asset can be sold
  • survey fee for a new lease plan (if applicable), payable once a premium has been agreed
  • the council’s conveyancing fees, VAT and disbursements; disbursements include costs that our solicitor will incur as part of the transaction and may include Land Registry title search fees, sealing of documents and other office costs

Please note that our solicitor’s fees are subject to change depending on the date of instructions to our solicitors to complete the transaction. These costs do not include any premium payable for the asset. In addition, you will also be responsible for your own legal fees.

How to apply and fees

Our residential conveyancing and compliance team manages all applications. Email us if you have an enquiry.

You need to give us as much information as possible about the area you want to buy, ideally with photos and a sketch of the area and the approximate size, and whether the area is currently accessed by either council staff or anyone else.

Guidance notes -  Buying unused land or space in your building (PDF, 151kb)

Page last updated: 29 May 2024

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