Dear old Britain is getting on, and so are many of its buildings. And English Heritage likes to do that preserving thing by listing buildings. But if you haven't worked out whether your bricks and mortar are worth preserving, it could cost you.

Kirit Ved bought what he now runs as Ved News in London's Stoke Newington 27 years ago. He hasn't done anything to the windows in that time, but apparently the previous owner did. Kirit's solicitor, who should have picked up this point when Kirit bought the property, did not.

Now the council has told Kirit that he must restore the front windows back to compliance with Grade II. They are taking him to court.

It will cost him £15K to comply and, if he doesn't, the fines could run from £5K to £20K. The council has already told him that they will require £700 towards their own court costs (to sue him).

When Kirit first rang I suggested he consult the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to see if it would be advisable to appoint a fenestration surveyor. It turns out that it would be, although fenestration surveyors are few and far between and costly as they spend most of their time as expert witnesses in court cases of this nature.

Kirit has already been to court once, costing him £1,000. It was adjourned. His solicitor has now advised taking pictures of the rest of the parade (also listed but strangely not summonsed) and he awaits a second court appearance.

My research has shown that local authorities have the power to demand alterations to be put right regardless of the time lapse and who made the alteration in the first case.

So Kirit looks like he could be liable. Is there anyone out there who has faced similar problems? Did you win or lose? Kirit could use a hand.

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