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7 Year Rule

Retention Planning Permission and The Seven Year Rule

Often times people phone up for advice regarding retention planning permission and ask specifically about the ‘seven year rule’ or some other version of this idea. So in this blog I’m going to discuss the ‘seven year rule’, what it means and to clear up misunderstandings surrounding the idea.

When one builds new work, extends or alters existing property in any way, this is generally classed as ‘development’ under the planning regulations. Some minor works can be classed as ‘exempted developments’, which by their description, they are exempt from planning permission. ALL other development requires planning permission, therefore if a piece of ‘development’ is not exempt it requires planning permission in ALL cases. This is very clear in the regulations.

But what about the ‘seven year rule’ I hear you cry!

What exactly is it and does it not mean you don’t need planning permission?

The so called misnomer, the seven year rule comes from the understanding or some instances the misunderstanding of the statute of limitations in the planning legislation Ireland. It being 6 years, and the understanding that once 7 years have elapsed, the planning authority (the County Council) are statute barred from taking any enforcement proceeding against the unauthorised development that otherwise would have required planning permission.

This is a fact that is true, but it does NOT mean that one has planning permission. The fact that the planning authority/council does not have the right to pursue the enforcement of a breach of the Planning Regulations, does not mean that the person/s automatically have planning permission.

But what difference does it make I hear you say, when the council can’t do anything about it? Yes this is the case, but when one goes to sell or finance the property with the ‘unauthorised development’ that needed planning permission in the first instance, one will find that the ‘seven year rule’ may be of no use at all.

This is because when a a solicitor is acting on behalf of the a person looking to raise finance on a said or property or is acting on behalf of a purchaser of a said property, the solicitor must insure that the title is ‘clean’ and give an undertaking as such, to any lending institute that may be involved and have an interest in the transaction.

If the property does not have the proper planning permissions in place, the ‘clean’ title will not be available and as a result the person selling the property or the person trying to raise finance on the property will find that they are stuck.

In this instance, the only available option is to regularise the matter through a retention planning application, in order to be in a position to have the ‘clean’ title. So in conclusion, the fact that something may have been built over seven years, does not mean the same thing as having planning permission in the first place. For further information or help on this topic, go to our page on Retention Planning Applications.

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