In a recent case, the High Court ruled that a touring caravan which had been brought onto land and affixed permanently was not a ‘dwelling-house’.

The decision came after the owner of the caravan, who had resided permanently in it for six years without a planning application being made or planning enforcement action being taken, sought a ‘certificate of lawful use’ for the occupation.

A certificate of lawful use can ‘legalise’ the occupation of a dwelling-house where planning law has been breached and no enforcement action has been taken after four years’ occupation: for other buildings, the usual time limit is ten years. Once the certificate has been granted, the council can no longer take enforcement action.

In this case, the owner’s contention that the caravan was a dwelling-house was based on the fact that it was attached to a wall and could no longer be removed without being demolished. The council had dismissed this argument and refused to grant the certificate of lawful use on the ground that the caravan was not a building. The decision that it was not a dwelling-house was upheld by the High Court.


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