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Garden annex

YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT GARDEN LODGES AND GRANNY ANNEXES ANSWERED

Read our helpful FAQs below for answers to common questions about garden lodges and garden annexes. Mobile Annexe Ltd is based near Stansted airport, operating across England.

  • Siting Of A Granny Annexe Your Garden
    A caravan, be it a touring or static caravan or granny annexe, is regarded as an article of movable personal property known as a ‘chattel’ and there is no public law preventing one being kept in someone’s garden, but there are laws that regulate the ‘Use’ of land. Our Granny Annexes are classed as caravans and can be sited and used in a garden without the need for express planning consent. If the use is not considered part of, or incidental to, the house, then a ‘material change of use’ may have occurred.
  • How do I get Buildings & Contents Insurance for my Annexe
    Mobile Annexe has partnered with Amica Insurance Brokers to offer home insurance for the self contained annexes that we build. Amica's owners have a combined 20 years of insurance broking experience. Operating from offices in Staffordshire, Amica are proud to offer a personal service nationwide. All their staff members are qualified insurance professionals and offer tailored advice and products. As well as Home & Annexe insurance they offer a broad range of insurance products such as car, van, travel, landlords, business, liability, shops & offices. They offer a ‘one stop shop’ for all insurance needs, whilst simultaneously building long standing relationships.
  • Do you offer finance?
    Mobile Annexe has partnered with Cavendish Capital to provide dedicated financial solutions to you. With offices in Berkeley Square, Mayfair in London and Fore Street in Hertford they can offer more than 25 years of experience within the finance industry. They can offer very competitive mortgages, second charge mortgages, secured loans, short term bridging finance and unsecured loans to help you find the perfect financial solution. IMPORTANT INFORMATION *THE MORTGAGE PROPERTY (WHICH MAY BE YOUR HOME) MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE* Think carefully before securing debt against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up with the repayments. You must be aware that Cavendish Capital does not provide regulated mortgage contracts, where it is either your or an immediate family member's intention to occupy at least 40% of this property as a dwelling, either now or at any time in the future.
  • Do I have to pay Council Tax on a Granny Annexe?
    As the owner of the Granny Annexe, you are personally liable as the inhabitant of the annexe from the first day of occupation to pay council tax at the cheapest band A. For instance, annual costs in Maldon , Essex from April 2024 are set at £1,011.11 for band A. However, you may well be eligible to apply for a discretionary disability discount of up to £150. You would need to provide evidence from your doctor to highlight any current or future disability though, Additionally, you could save up to 1.5% off your Council Tax bill if you pay early in one lump sum. Therefore, the total cost could be as little as £848.19 per year
  • You can save thousands of pounds in stamp duty if you purchase a property for your Granny Annexe.
    Multiple Dwelling Relief (“MDR”) was introduced in July 2011. MDR is intended to provide some relief from Stamp duty Land Tax (“SDLT) where multiple dwellings are acquired in a single transaction. Despite being a valuable tax relief it is often overlooked, potentially leaving the taxpayer disadvantaged when acquiring more than one property. Evidence suggests that MDR was claimed on just a third of eligible transactions in 2017. Perhaps spurred by the new 3% surcharge on SDLT, professional negligence actions against solicitors who fail properly to advise their clients of the potential to claim MDR meaning it is more important than ever to be aware of the relief. What is MDR? MDR will apply to a transaction if the main subject matter of that transaction is an interest in: At least two dwellings (a multiple dwelling transaction); or A single dwelling if: it is one of a number of linked transactions; and the main subject-matter of at least one of the other transactions is an interest in at least one dwelling (single dwelling transaction). What is a dwelling? For the purposes of MDR, a building will count as a dwelling if: (a) it is used or suitable for use as a single dwelling, or (b) it is in the process of being constructed or adapted for such use. HMRC has recently provided greater clarification as to what constitutes a dwelling: “It is a question of fact whether a purchase consists of one or more than one dwelling. A self-contained part of a building will be a separate dwelling if the residents can live independently of the residents of the rest of the building including independent access and domestic facilities.” This is an improvement, particularly given that the original guidance appeared to suggest that MDR would only be available to those purchasing properties divided into self-contained units to be let under assured shorthold tenancy agreements or flats where long leaseholds had not yet been granted. The key here, therefore, is that what constitutes a dwelling is a question of fact. Individual circumstances are different of course but what is really helpful is that HMRC consider that a self-contained part of a building which is capable of being lived in independently from the main building could be classed as a dwelling for MDR purposes. Suitable for use as a dwelling? What does it mean in terms of ‘suitable’ for use as a dwelling? The legislation does not go into detail as to how to interpret ‘suitable for use’. However, HMRC’s manual provides as follows: ‘Use at the effective date of the transaction overrides any past or intended future uses for this purpose. If a building is not in use at the effective date but its last use was as a dwelling, it will be taken to be “suitable for use as a dwelling” and treated as residential property, unless evidence is produced to the contrary. Undeveloped land is essentially non-residential but may be residential property if, at the effective date, a residential building is being built on it’. ‘Where, at the effective date, an existing building is being adapted or marketed for, or restored to, domestic use, it is treated as residential property’. Consequently, properties that are suitable for use as a dwelling, but are used for commercial purposes should not, applying this guidance, be taken to be dwellings for the purposes of the tax. Arguably, the position would be different where the property, which is suitable for use as a dwelling, is vacant but was last used for commercial purposes, if there is consent for change of use. In that situation, it is possible, the historical use of the property is overridden by the present ability to use the property as a dwelling. HMRC may though, depending on the facts, take a contrary view where, for example, a property’s last use was as an office but before the property is sold planning permission is granted for use as a dwelling, provided that, at the effective date of the transaction, the property is otherwise suitable for use as a dwelling or is being adapted for such use. In the process of being constructed or adapted for such use The description ‘a building that is used or suitable for use as a dwelling, or in the process of being constructed or adapted for such use’ in the legislation is a physical test and requires construction or conversion works to be taking place. HMRC’s Tax Bulletin 2/2012 states that properties that are in the process of being constructed will be treated as dwellings at the point when walls begin to be constructed upon the foundations, although those walls do not have to be above ground level. Where a building includes a number of dwellings (for example, a block of flats), HMRC appear to accept that all the dwellings in the building are treated as being in the process of being constructed when this test is met, not when construction of the individual dwelling starts. This principle applies even if the ground floor is intended for non-residential use (for example, where the building consists of retail shops with flats above), although we understand that there is no commercial element to this development. What is a ‘linked’ transaction Now we have a better idea of what a dwelling is, remember above that the transfer of a single dwelling may also fall into the net of MDR if: it is one of a number of linked transactions; and the main subject-matter of at least one of the other transactions is an interest in at least one dwelling(single dwelling transaction). When two or more property transactions involve the same buyer and seller, they count as ‘linked’ for SDLT. In such cases, SDLT is worked out on the cumulative purchase price of the properties i.e. SDLT is not worked out based on each individual unit. HMRC considers transactions as linked if: there’s more than one transaction; the transactions are between the same buyer and seller or between people connected with either of them; the transactions are part of a single arrangement or scheme or part of a series of transactions Connected Persons A connected person could be a relative, for example a brother, sister, parent, grandparent, husband, wife or civil partner – or one of their relatives. If the buyer or seller is a business, a connected person would be a business partner and their relatives. It also includes companies and groups of companies who are connected to the business. Single arrangement or scheme Some transactions are linked because they’re part of the same single arrangement or scheme. It’s the same whether they are documented separately or not. If each transaction has a separate contract, and if the sales are part of the same deal, they still count as linked for SDLT. If a residential property is sold in such a way that one person buys the house but their relative buys the garden, the 2 transactions are linked. They’re connected people and they’re buying things from the same seller as part of a single deal. Part of a series of transactions When a sale is followed by one or more related sales, if there’s something to link all the transactions together, they count as linked transactions for SDLT. HMRC does not place a limit to the length of time between the transactions. Consider a brief example. A property investor purchases a new house from a builder. Later, they buy a commercial property and finally an additional residential property off the same builder. HMRC will view these three transactions as linked as part of a series. Given that within these series of transactions, at least one other constituent purchase relates to a dwelling, MDR would be available. How does MDR work? As we have now analysed in some detail the pattern of facts that are required for MDR to be available, let us now explain how it works. Importantly, the relief must be claimed when filing the SDLT return with HMRC. When this relief is claimed, in order to work out the rate of tax HMRC charges: divide the total amount paid for the properties by the number of dwellings work out the tax due on this figure multiply this amount of tax by the number of dwellings. The minimum rate of tax under the relief is 1% of the amount paid for the dwellings, so care is required if considering ‘bulk purchases’ which include one or more properties individually worth £125,000 or less. Additionally investors may decide to buy more than one property in a single transaction if value of the one property is comparatively low to the other one to average it out and pay the lower rate of tax on full consideration. Example: Peter is a property investor and is purchasing three flats from a builder at a price of £300,000 each and a house from the same builder of £600,000, totalling £1,500,000. The transactions are linked for and assuming that there is no claim for MDR, the SDLT payable by Peter would be as follows: – Purchase price bands (£) Percentage rate (%) SDLT due (£) Up to 125,000 3 3,750 Above 125,000 and up to 250,000 5 6,250 Above 250,000 and up to 925,000 8 54,000 Above 925,000 and up to 1,500,000 13 74,750 Above 1,500,000+ 15 0 Total SDLT due 138,750 But, if Peter were to claim MDR, he would have to pay only: – £1,500,000 divided by 4 properties = £375,000 Purchase price bands (£) Percentage rate (%) SDLT due (£) Up to 125,000 3 3,750 Above 125,000 and up to 250,000 5 6,250 Above 250,000 and up to 375,000 8 10,000 Total SDLT due 20,000 We then multiply £20,000 by 4 leaving total SDLT payable of £80,000, a saving of £58,750! Non-residential rates In addition to MDR, property purchasers may alternatively wish to consider whether a claim for non-residential treatment of a transaction yields a lower SDLT liability. HMRC considers transactions which includes 6 or more dwellings to be commerical rather than residential and as such the non-residential rates of SDLT apply. The non-residential rates are generally lower than the residential rates, being 0% up to £150,000, 2% on the next £100,000 and 5% on the balance.
  • How Big Can A ‘Caravan’ Or Granny Annex Be?
    Although the maximum size of a caravan is limited to 20 x 6.8m (65ft x 22ft) in the Caravan Sites Acts, it is still considerably large, with enough space for over five bedrooms, toilets, kitchen and living spaces. A caravan can be significantly larger than most buildings capable of obtaining planning approval as annexes.
  • How Would A Large 20m X 6.8m, 5 Bedroom Granny Annex Be Transported?
    Our annexes are built on site from scratch and the mobility off-site and down a non-specific road is hypothetical. This is best answered in ‘The Appeal Decision; Brightlingsea Haven Ltd v. Morris 2008’ where it stated ‘It is the structure that must conform to the law not the means of access to where the structure is, and whether it may have difficulty in reaching a road. It is now common practice to build or assemble caravans in hard to access back gardens. The structure must remain movable and capable of transport down a hypothetical road, even if access to a road may require craning over buildings or complicated procedures. The structure need not have direct access to a road to be deemed a ‘caravan’. In terms of construction, Annexes can be assembled onsite from many prefabricated pieces so long as they conform to the construction and mobility test. Other caravans like touring and static caravans need not meet the construction tests but must remain movable.
  • Can A Garden Annex Contain A Bathroom And Kitchen?
    Practically every caravan commercially available has all the facilities that would allow it to be lived in. A mobile home caravan sited in a garden with all facilities is capable of being used completely independently. If it were actually to be used in that way, a separate occupation would be created, and planning approval would be required. Whether the caravan includes kitchens and bathrooms, as well as primary living accommodation, such as bedrooms and living rooms, should not create a development control issue. There is no law to refuse the stationing of a caravan because of a material change of use by the nature of its facilities alone. It should be the use of the caravan, in association with the house, which is evaluated, not the mere presence of facilities or the potential use of the unit.
  • Why Would I Want To Live In A Caravan? They Look Horrible And Are Freezing Cold In The Winter!
    Many people think of mobile homes and static caravans as having substandard comfort, dreary designs, and paper-thin walls. However, they are not all like this. Our Granny Annexes offer all the luxury of conventional residential living. They are built to the same insulation values as a normal house, adhere to all building regulations and are custom built to any design and style to desire, if it conforms to the definition of caravan.
  • Does The Council Planning Department Need Contacting?
    The answer is no. If the proposed mobile home falls within the criteria of use, conformity, and location, then the situation is outside of planning control and approval from the authorities is not needed. We do, however, advise that in all cases a Lawful Development Certificate is obtained for peace of mind. A Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) is a statutory document confirming that the use, operation or activity named in it is lawful for planning control purposes. Once granted, the certificate will remain valid for the use or development described in it, on the land it describes as long as the use doesn’t change. We will apply on your behalf for FREE, you will only have to pay the fee for the application of £220
  • Why Not Just Apply For Planning Permission For A Granny Annexe?
    Statistically there will be a high chance of refusal. Mobile homes can be 20 x 6.8 metres and have over 5 bedrooms, significantly larger than a building likely to be granted conventional planning approval. Additionally, there is no restriction on style. Planning permission will often require that the style and finish is ‘in keeping’ with the area, whilst, an annexe can be finished to your preferred taste.
  • Siting A Granny Annex In A Greenbelt Or Conservation Areas
    Many homeowners are familiar with ‘permitted development rights.’ This is the allowance to construct outbuildings, extensions, sheds etc. without the need for planning approval. However, these rights are often restricted to properties within greenbelt and conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty or scientific interest. This does NOT restrict having an annex. The crucial fact is that the use of a caravan is NOT a permitted development right or even ‘development’. Caravans are not ‘buildings’ or ‘structures’. So, if there is a law that restricts permitted development or applies to buildings or structures, it should not restrict the use of a caravan. There are some exceptions, for example, if a mobile home sited in open country land is considered harmful to the greenbelt.
  • Building A Granny Annexe In Orchards, Paddocks And Woodland
    If there is a lack of distinction between the boundary and use of the garden and other areas of your property, for example an orchard area or field used to keep horses that are used by members of the household, then planning permission will usually be required, as the Council will often not conclude such areas are ‘domestic’ curtilage, even if they are parcel to your property as a whole. One recommendation is, before commencing with any caravan proceedings, to separately apply for planning permission for ‘change of use’ of these areas to residential curtilage or garden. This can be supported with a site map indicating the entire property boundary that can be drawn into new deeds for your property. Additionally, the Land Registry can be contacted to confirm the registered ‘use’.
  • Restrictive Building Covenants
    Restrictive covenants are basically a form of private planning control. They place restrictions on the development or use of land, for the benefit of another piece of land, and are enforceable by one landowner against another. In some cases, particularly modern housing estates, the developer may have placed a restricted covenant that states that caravans and motorhomes cannot be parked in the garden or drive. In these cases, a caravan will not be allowed unless the original builder lifts or cancels the covenant, which can often be arranged.
  • Article 4 Restrictions
    The local planning authority may have removed the permitted development rights of an area by issuing an Article 4 direction. This is common in new housing estates. Unless specifically used to restrict the use of caravans the restriction will normally be upon ‘permitted development’, which does not include caravans, as caravans are not development.
  • How Much Value Does A Granny Annex Add To A Property?
    Adding a granny annex to your property is a good investment, a significant increase can be added onto the value of a property with one of our annexes. Added value depends entirely on the size and finish of the annex though; here we are talking about fully self-contained units, connected to utilities and suitable for living year-round. It can be difficult to find property on the market that already has a modern, quality granny annex as most homeowners aren’t selling up thanks to their annex being a great family living solution. If you do come across a property for sale, it’s bound to be a sound investment due to the demand for these types of property. Which brings us on to saleability; having a property with separate living space on your hands is a great marketing opportunity. The multi-functional use of granny annexes makes them an attractive property feature for many prospective buyers so ensure that when you’re turning a property around, you really emphasise the unique opportunity presented by a well-constructed annexe.
  • Do you need planning to place an Granny Annexe on your farm land?
    If you intend to use the Annexe as part of the day to day running of your farm then you can legally live in one on your land. So How Can You Live in A Static Caravan Legally On Your Farm? You can use the “Health & Safety In The Work Place” this is needed for any employer to provide their workers. Do not Ask A Local Planning Officer You will get an outright “NO”. Planning Officers don’t know most of the “Planning Laws” and probably never read their “Local Planning Policies” and “National planning Policies”. Siting Your Static Caravan Put the caravan in an area that is not going to make the caravan stick out like a sore thumb. Do not put it right next to the road or your neighbour’s boundary. Pick an area of your land that is well away from both of these. Maybe plant some large leylandii so that it breaks up the look of the caravan. Also, purchase a Green or Cream colour these seem to blend in with the area and surrounding farmland. Now if you haven’t started your farm then you need to get on it straight away. If an “Enforcement Officer” turns up and you’re working the land. Then this is going to be a good look. But if you have turned all your soil over if growing for Market Gardens or have Lots of Sheep or Lots of Chicken Tractors breeding pure breed poultry. Then they will see you are trying to become a farmer. Also, the fact that fewer and fewer young people are getting into farming is good. Even if you only have a couple of acres that’s enough land to farm. And make a good living if you pick the right “Niche Market” If You Want To Live In Your Static Caravan Then you are going to have to put together a business plan that can show you can earn a minimum income of the national average of £26,000 a year. But you can still move into your caravan without applying for Planning Permission while building your business up. You have to do this carefully and what I am saying is. Let’s say you have started your farm and you’re doing just fine and making a profit while living at your regular home. Then you ask for the right to live on your farm in a caravan because you are making the minimum income needed of £26,000 if you were already living on the land. But if you have grown a profitable farm while living away from the farm then ask the council if you can live on the farm. The local planning department is going to say well why do you need to live on the land if your farm is doing just fine where you live now..?. So it is always better to live on the farm while growing your business to the minimum income needed. You can start your farm and start making money before you decide to give up your home to move onto the farmland but keep it below £26.000. This way when you do move on the land you will already have a business making a profit but not as much as needed. But you will have a good start to get to the amount to live on the land legally. You will be in a better financial starting position to make that one years minimum income. Than if you started from scratch living in the caravan and had three years and a bare farm to make that amount and good business. So starting to farm your land first and getting things ready is going to stand you in good stead for your big move. How To Get Around The Planning System For Living On Your Farm Let’s look at from another angle you sell your home or give up your rented accommodation and move straight into the static caravan without planning permission. You will almost certainly get a visit from the local council, but now you have nowhere else to live and evicting you from your home. Well, this just doesn’t look good for the council planners and its not good publicity. I mean your only trying to start a small farming business to help the local community and hopefully give back to the community in the future. While also making a living from the land. So what you need to be doing is writing that business plan if you haven’t already done it. I am also not talking about keeping just a couple of different animals. It has to be an economically viable business plan that will make you an income from the land. There have only been 3 cases of evicting people from their land. So you have a great chance to stay on that land living in your static caravan. But at this stage, you will have to apply for planning and probably attend a Local Planning Committee Meeting. You will be given 3 minutes to state your case. Please don’t say things like “Well They Did It” so we should be allowed. You need to be calm and have all the facts and figures in front of you. As well as your business plan. Also, why do you think you need to live on the land? Remember you only have three minutes to put your case forward. Now some people will say you should use a “Planning Consultant” well if you want to waste thousands of pounds that could help you grow your farm then waste it…! Read your Local Planning Policy and National Planning Policies, also with a good Business Plan, both policies state they have to support small and large businesses for farming in the countryside. Then you will be able to do this on your own and save that hard-earned cash. What Happens Next After the Planning Committee Meeting They will give you 3-5 years to live in a Static Caravan Legally. And they will want to see you make the average minimum wage from that farming venture for one year out of the term they have given you. If you manage to do this then they will grant planning permission for a real home and the size of that home will depend on how much you can earn from your farm. So this is why it is best to start your farm as soon as possible. Meaning getting the land ready, and your website and marketing sorted. Plan out everything.
  • Connecting Services - Electricity, Water, Waste
    Electricity Our qualified electrician will establish your specific energy requirement for your Granny Annexe. We will run an armoured cable from your existing consumer unit in your main dwelling to a new consumer unit in the Annexe. Water Our qualified plumber will establish the best access point to get a connection to your current water supply to your house. We will then run a new MDPE blue water pie from the main dwelling to the Granny Annexe. Sewage Waste We will connect the Granny Annexe to your nearest Sewage waste drain, usually sited somewhere in your garden. We don't need any form of permission to make the connection as it is known as an indirect connection. If the connection is uphill we will connect a silent bilge pump to pump the waste to the drain. Or in some situations we will install a Klargester BioDisc sewage treatment plant, which will need to then be emptied annually.
Garden annex

STILL GOT A QUESTION?

If you have a question that is not answered above about garden lodges and granny annexes, simply give the team at Mobile Annexe Ltd a call today on 07770 365734.

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