Get a quote


What Is A Certificate Of Lawful Use and How To Obtain One?

Also known as a lawful development certificate, a Certificate Of Lawful Use is one issued by the local council to legalise the development or use of a piece of land.

28 November 2019
Default Author image
Eugene Kim

Table of Contents

When can the Certificate Of Lawfulness be issued?

It is issued before or after the development or use of land. In the first case, no activity has commenced on the land and the certificate shows that whatever future operations you are proposing are legal and do not require express planning permission. For the latter, the land is already in use but the operations that take place within it are in breach of planning permission. However, lawful enforcement action was not taken against it because the development did not require planning permission or the time for such action expired.

For existing development, it is mandatory to demonstrate that operations were completed in not less than four years before the time of application – the four year rule. However, if there was a breach of planning permission or a change in land use, then you need to prove that this occurred not less than 10 years ago – the 10 year rule. Evidence for these rules includes but is not limited to title register, maintenance bills and dated photos of the site among others. If none of these conditions are fulfilled the application becomes rejected.

How do I apply for the Lawfulness Development Certificate?

There are two separate forms for proposed and existing developments both of which have accompanying guidelines. They are available on the Planning Service website or at a Divisional Planning Office. You can fill them personally or have an agent such as a planner or surveyor fill them for you.

Information should be provided as enlisted in the form or as requested by the planning officer. Incomplete or deceitful leads to disqualification, revoking of any certificates obtained and possible prosecution.

If you qualify, a certificate is issued within the agreed timeline. You can appeal to the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) if the application is refused in part or whole.

What costs do I incur regarding the Lawfulness Development Certificate?

You can obtain information on application fees from your local Divisional Planning Office. Fees for a proposed development is half that of existing development. Fees are nonrefundable and cannot be offset by fees paid for a subsequent planning application.

It is very important to hold such a certificate as it is proof that activities taken upon by developers are legal. Additionally, it shows that the development can be utilised by prospective developers or purchased on the housing market without any complications. Moreover, it prevents any legal action from being taken against you if, for instance, a neighbour was to make an inquiry or complaint about your work.

Default Author image


Eugene Kim

Eugene Kim, Founder and Managing Director of Extension Architecture, has led the firm for over 14 years, consistently delivering quality solutions. His dedication has been key to the company's growth and success.

Read next

The latest news, updates and expert views for ambitious, high-achieving and purpose-driven homeowners and property entrepreneurs.

Steph Fanizza, Architectural Design & Team Manager

Tell us about your plan and we'll send you a free quote! It takes less than 60 seconds!

Step 1 of 8

Book a free video meeting