Forty planning applications are being made every day for building work that has already started or been completed, with homeowners risking being forced to tear down their extensions or even entire houses.

In the last three years 39,200 retrospective planning applications were filed, according to data collected by Churchill Home Insurance via a Freedom of Information request, with 4,758 — around one in eight — then being rejected by local authority planning officers.

Amanda Brodie, an associate solicitor in our real estate team, explains the 'four-year' rule that may allow those who have built a property without planning permission to become "immune to enforcement action". The owner can then apply for a certificate of lawfulness.

Thousands take risk of building properties without planning permission is available to read on The Times website via subscription.

Amanda is an associate solicitor in the real estate team. She advises on all aspects of planning law and has acted for a range of clients including major house builders, property developers, NHS Foundation Trusts, schools, pension funds, investors, local authorities and private individuals.