Dealing with Listed Buildings – What You Need to Know

Have you always dreamed of having a cute chocolate box sweet shop in a country village? Or maybe you are looking to rent a commercial property in a ye olde town for your office space or barber shop.
Renting a listed property can give your business great curb appeal, fantastic character, and a commercial property to be proud of.
On the flip side, however, is that listed properties can sometimes be tricky to manage. There are several rules about what you can and cannot do to the property, and the care that you must take of it. Some of these responsibilities fall to the landlord (often the structural elements are, for example)) and other elements can be the responsibility of the tenant. We recommend that you thoroughly read your rental agreement to understand what is and is not your responsibility to deal with – whether you are a tenant or landlord.
In this article, we are going to look at the details of renting a listed commercial property for both commercial property landlords and tenants.

What is a Listed Building?

Listed buildings in the UK are buildings that have been deemed to be of national, architectural, and/or historical interest. They can be structures of any kind and will have been added to one of four specific lists maintained by Historic England (in England), Historic Environment Scotland (in Scotland), Cadw (in Wales), and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (in Northern Ireland). The ultimate responsibility is held, however, by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.
Listed buildings include any building built before 1700, most of the buildings built between 1700 and 1840, and more modern properties that are of significance.
The point of listing buildings is to protect them from demolition or development that could have a detrimental effect on the building.
In England, there are three different grades to listed buildings:

  • Grade I – the highest level of national, historic, or architectural importance, for example, The Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace
  • Grade II* – buildings of “special national interest”
  • Grade II – buildings of “special historic or architectural interest” – this is the category that your listed building will most likely fall into.

The lists show that in England, 91.7% of listed buildings are Grade II listed. If you are not sure whether your property is listed, you should check on the National Heritage list.

Renting Out a Listed Building

If you are an owner of a listed building in the UK, there will be strict restrictions about what you may and may not do to the property. This might include factors that you will need to write some of these restrictions into your rental contract such as maintenance stipulations, that can apply to both the inside and outside of the building.
If you own a listed building that you are considering renting out as a commercial property, there are some extra factors that you should take into account. Every listed building is different, and therefore, will have different restrictions placed on it. The main rule, it seems, is that you should not make changes that affect the character or appearance of the building.
If you are hoping to make any significant changes to the building, you will be required to apply for listed building consent from the local planning authority that covers the area where the property is located. You should remember that the planning departments are not an enemy, but looking to ensure that the building is properly protected in terms of its structure, appearance, and character.
Ensuring that your listed commercial property is well-maintained is essential when you are its owner. If you are or are planning to rent it to commercial tenants, it is vital that they also keep it well maintained whilst they are occupying the property. It is quite normal, for example, that traditional repair methods will need to be employed to carry out repairs on the property.
It is essential that tenants and landlords both work together to make sure that the property is well-maintained and in good repair. There will need to be a certain degree of responsibility on each part, for example, tenants must make sure that their activities are not detrimental to the property and that they report any issues as quickly as possible. Landlords, on the other hand, should ensure that issues are dealt with swiftly and information quickly passed to the tenant – as well as keeping tenant health and safety as a priority.

Exclusions to the Rules

Owning and renting out a listed building comes with many rules and guidelines that you must follow. There are, however, some occasions where you are also excluded from some specific rental property rules.
One example of this is the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). In a standard commercial property, landlords must provide an EPC when there is a change of tenancy to the building. This is not the case, however, with listed properties. Likewise, if your property falls below energy efficiency standards, you may not have to carry out standard measures if they change the appearance or character of the building in an unacceptable manner.

Final Thoughts

Although being a listed property landlord or landlady can sound daunting and a lot of work, there are some benefits. Importantly, you are contributing to the preservation of some of the buildings that give the country its character and keep history alive. By renting it out to people, you are also enabling someone else to enjoy being in an interesting and iconic building, which can be very rewarding.
If you have a listed (or non-listed) property that you are looking to lease out – or, indeed, you are looking to rent one, take a look at what have here at Boxpod to offer you.