Taking a lease of an old premises or a period building? We recommend that you find out whether the premises enjoys special protective status under the Planning Acts as this may lead to additional or unanticipated costs for specialised repair work and special planning applications.
The definition of a protected structure is broader than you might think. Just as Dublin Castle is a protected structure, you might find that a warehouse at Dublin Docklands, an office building on South Mall in Cork, or a retail unit on Shop Street in Galway enjoys special protection.
Before taking a lease of a premises, a prospective tenant should find out whether the premises is a protected structure under the Planning and Development Act 2000 as this may have cost implications for the tenant.
What is a protected structure?
A 'protected structure' is a structure that the local planning authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social, or technical point of view and is included in the planning authority's Record of Protected Structures.
How to check whether a building is a protected structure
Check the Record of Protected Structures which is maintained by the local authority or carry out a search in the planning office of the local authority for the area in which the premises is located.
Some tips to spot a protected structure
- Brick facades and decorative arches
- Timber sash windows and bay windows
- Some known historical or architectural importance
What does protected structure designation mean for a tenant?
- The tenant has a statutory obligation to ensure that a protected structure does not become endangered through decay, damage or neglect. This applies to the interior and exterior of the premises.
- The planning authority can compel you to carry out certain works to protect or to restore the protected structure.
- The tenant may need to obtain a grant of planning permission if it wishes to carry out any works whether internal or external. This requirement has a very broad application and can include even minor works and routine maintenance to windows and railings.
- The costs of repair and maintenance may be greater than those for non-protected premises.
What should a prospective tenant do if the premises is protected?
- Find out whether a "Section 57 Declaration" has issued from the local planning authority for the premises. A Section 57 Declaration can save you time and money as it sets out what works, repairs and redecoration can be carried out which would otherwise require planning permission due to the designation as a protected structure.
- Arrange for a thorough survey of the premises to be carried out, and then research and budget for the costs of specialised repair and decorative work, and the associated planning applications.
- When negotiating the lease, clearly set out the extent of the tenant repair obligations and the condition in which the premises must be returned to the landlord at the end of the letting.
- Consider making an application to the planning authority for a Section 57 Declaration with the help of your architect, if such a Declaration has not already issued.
A prospective tenant should confirm whether a premises it is planning to lease is a protected structure before executing the lease. If it is a protected structure, the tenant should arrange for a thorough survey of the premises to be carried out so that it is aware of repairs likely to be required during the term and the associated costs. It should then carefully negotiate the repair, redecoration, and yield-up obligations in the lease with the landlord.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.