Enforced Sale on a prohibited property

We have a property that is in an extremely dilapidated condition which has resulted in the Council having to undertake emergency work to prevent the property from collapsing.  Due to the property condition the property was prohibited and the owner was relocated to alternative accommodation.  I started the Enforced Sale process, which we have undertaken numerous times in Rochdale but after serving the S103 notice our legal team have become reluctant to continue down the enforced sale route as they believe the authority could be challenged by the owner as we placed a prohibition order on the property so we could be challenged that as the owner hasn't  abandoned the property.

I have argued the point that the Prohibition Order does not prevent the owner from undertaking work, it simply prevents him from living there but we are now at an impass with the property just detiorating, has anyone else had this problem? any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Regards

Nicola

Empty Property Team Leader

Rochdale BC 

Forums: 
Enforced Sale

Nicola, I am in agreement with yourself. The purpose of enforced sale is to recover costs incurred by the local authority in carrying its statutory functions and which it was unable to recover through its normal debt recovery processes. I am assuming you have invoiced the owner and gone through your normal debt recovery process. If so, I don't see why a prohibition order should influence the enforced sale.  Prohibition does not prevent the owner from repaying the debt to the council, nor does it prevent the owner from taking responsibility for their property.

I am as interested as you to learn of others views on this.

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Hi Nicola

I'm in agreement with you and have used enforced sale where a prohibition order is in place but can't suggest how you convince your legal team that it is ok. To echo the points above, enforced sale is about debt recovery. Nothing prevents the owner carrying out work to bring the property up to a satisfactory standard or repaying the debt owed to the authority.

Sue Li

Compulsory Purchase and Enforcement Officer

Derby City Council

Have you considered using a Building Act 1984 Notice s.79 Runious and Dilapidated?

We have served a few of these requiring the owner to renovate or demolish. If the owner does not comply we undertake works in default. We have demolished a property through works in default, placed a charging order on the land and have just recently been granted an Order for Sale to recover the cost of us demolishing the property.

Worth looking into if you haven't already.

Yours

Emma Bundock

Private Sector Housing Manager

Allerdale Borough Council

 

 

Emma Bundock

Private Sector Housing Manager

Allerdale Borough Council

We used a section 78 building act notice to try to make the property safe, unfortunately it's a semi-detached property so demolition isn't the best option.  The work completed in default has secured the property so it is not in imminent danger of collapse.  The debt now owed to the authority for various works has amounted to a considerable sum but our legal team don't think we should go for an enforced sale when we've already placed a prohibition order on the property.  I just wondered if anyone else had the same issue.

Regards

Nicola

Section 50 of the Housing Act 2004 gives the Loacal Authority provision for reigstering the cost of making a Prohibition Order as a local land charge.  It also gives provision for enforced sale under the Law of Property Act 1925 to recover that charge.  With that in mind, I don't know how your legal team can perceive the Prohibition Order as being a barrier to enforced sale.

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Hi Nicola

I agree with the other comments on this page. The Local Authority has incurred a debt and is entitled to recover it. If it has not been possible to do so by negotiation with the owner, then the enforced sale process is a useful option. Is your legal team able to offer an explanation for their reluctance to continue with the enforced sale process? If so, then we might be able to understand what they think the barriers are.

Fiona Anthony

Professional Support Lawyer, nplaw

Hi Fiona

Our legal team are of the opinion the owner has not abandoned the property, which they believe is a criteria for enforcing the sale.  My argument is that the prohibition order prevents him from living there it does not prevent him from undertaking work at the property, so the fact that he hasn't been anywhere near the property to either clear it out or undertake work in my humble opinion means he has abandoned it.

You need to explain to your Legal Team that the reason for pursuing enforced sale is not because the owner has abandonded the property.  It is to recover a debt registered as a charge against the property, a debt that could not be recovered through direct negotiation with the owner.

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

The legal team at a Lodon borough I worked for stopped an Order of Sale because they feared they would have trouble gaining vacant possession because of an old lease. Could the Rochdale legal team be concerned about vacant possession?

Hi

No, our legal team are worried about the owner appealing and the case going to court.  They think that if the case went to court a judge would agree to allow the owner to repay the debt in installments. I would be happy with that and would just then carry on with the CPO process,  the owner is unable to bring the property back into use or even make it safe which is a concern for the neighbours.  I'll keep going with my argument, my tactic now is to just wear our legal team down until they give in and do what I've instructed them to do!!!

Have you pointed them in the direction of Section 50 of the Housing Act 2004?

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

I agree with the other comments. You are legally entitled to enforce the sale. Whether it is occupied or empty is purely an ethical point, and I think you can satisfy this- it is empty by his default or volition.

The only point that concerns me is the effect the  prohibition order will have on the price obtained for the property. Could the owner argue that this prevents "best price" being obtained for the property?

I wonder what the Legal Department's proposal is for bringing the property back into use, dealing with what I presume is something of an eye-sore and of particular concern to the neighbour in the other half of the semi. It's not just about the council recovering debt - legitimately, as others have strongly argued - but also about serving the wider interests of the community.