CPO Not Confirmed!

Hi Folks, Me again!

So I last posted to ask advice about an impending site inspection as part of written reps for a CPO that I had received an objection to. Well, I have been advised by the SoS that following the site inspectors report they have decided not to confirm the CPO. As you can imagine I am disappointed by this, especially due to the reasons given, and I was wondering what your thoughts are on this. Due to the sensitive nature of the report I can't post anything verbatim but I can paraphrase...

I became involved with the property following complaints of an overgrown rear garden and unstable rear lean to. The property is jointly owned by two estranged brothers. Other than the issues raised by the complainant the 3 bed mid-terrace property was in reasonable condition, on a main road with a front garden that was maintained to a minimum standard.

Upon writing to the owners one responded well and the other very reluctantlyand then not at all. The rear garden was tidied to some degree, following the threat of S215 TCPA notice, but it became clear that this was all that would be happening as the brothers could not agree on what to do with the house which had been their family home. One wanted to sell it and release the equity, the other didn't (for whatever reason - he cites wanting to keep the family home. I suspect it is more to spite his brother who is not in as strong a financial position as him.)

I cautioned against CPO action and managed to arrange an offer of private leasing by a local RSL.This was refused by one owner, not the other. We then valued the property and made an offer to purchase. This was again refused, by the same owner, and although accepted by the other could not proceed.

We proceeded to CPO and, as you can guess, one brother made an objection. The other contacted the SoS and said he supported the CPO. The case went to written reps and the property was inspected. Both brothers submitted reps - one against CPO, one in favour! Needless to say there is lot more detail to it than this, including various promises from the objector that did not materialise but seem to have influenced the inspectors decision...

We were advised this week that the CPO was not to be confirmed and the primary reasons were: 1 - the property is not in serious disrepair and therefore the case is not in the public interest, 2- the issue of the dispute is not unique and a CPO would represent a "serious intervention" in what is essentially a "private dispute."

I would like to seek your opinion on a couple of things:

1. When a CPO is taken under the HA does it matter if the property isn't in a serious state of disrepair? I thought that was the benefit of this power over the TCPA one?

2. Does anyone know if I can appeal the decision and whether the above point would be good grounds to do so?

3. Are you surpised by this outcome? Have I just been unlucky? (If a property is unlikely to ever come back into use and you had tried all other options would a CPO not be an option to consider?)

4. Any suggestions as to where I go from here?

In response to this we are now reconsidering how we select our properties for CPO action. Up to now we have taken into account their priority score (derived from length of time empty, number of complaints, impact on the amenity etc etc), ownership situation (probate etc), co-operation of owners, charges against the property such as care home fees etc and whether CTAX is being paid. This property was a high priority (in the top 15) score wise, with ctax debt and a non-cooperative owner and no prospect of resolution so a fair candidate, or so we thought! Would anyone be willing to share their decision making process for CPO action so that we can reconsider our tactics?

Hopefully you have made it to bottom of this post and thank you in advance to anyone that takes the time to respond - I really appreciate it!

Ruth

Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Forums: 
CPOs

Ruth

I am dismayed by this decision and it is similar to a scenario I had previously, where two brothers fell out over the renovation of two empty properties and would not agree how to move forward.

Fortunately by raising the prospect of CPO this did prompt one brother to take the other to court to force a sale and this case never needed to go further.

I have commenced CPO proceedings for properties not in disrepair but in circumstances where it became evident the owner was unable or unwilling to bring it into beneficial use. In these cases I have placed heavy emphasis upon high housing need and related this to the public interest. However, the only ones that have gone to appeal have been dilapidated, so I can't say whether or not it is a surprise.

The other option I have used is to agree a unilateral undertaking with the owner whereby they agree not to appeal or to withdraw an appeal and agree to confirmation, subject to them sticking to a schedule to bring the property into use. The LA agrees that following confirmation they will not vest the property unless the owner breaks their part of the agreement.

Not sure if this helps but just wanted to reassure you that other EPOs would consider this a CPO candidate.

 

Sue

Sue Li

Compulsory Purchase and Enforcement Officer

Derby City Council

Hi Ruth

 

I would use a EDMO - we have used it in Rochdale in such cases with great effect, or our legal advice is that one joint owner can agree to enter into a leasing scheme so long as they inform the other owner, and obviously offer them ( or keep for them ) their share of the rent.

Give me a call on 01706 924041 if you want to talk over.

Regards

Darryl Lawrence

Rochdale

Hi Ruth

I have dealt with many suchlike cases and have directed the owner who wanted to sell down the 'order of sale' route. An owner may apply to courts for an order of sale if the other owners will not sell or if they have lost contact and they have taken all reasonable steps to find them etc. Used in conjunction with the Trusts of Land & Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 - section 14 (2) - Order of Sale & the Administration of Estates Act 1925 section 25 (if applicable) - Duty of Personal Representative, it can be an effective means of resolution.

Happy to discuss further if it helps?

 

Will

Hi Ruth

 

I think the "mistake" in this case was to agree for the objections to the CPO to be dealt with by way of the written representations procedure.

 

I say this because of the scores of CPO's in respect of long term empty properties I have been involved with over the years, the only case that was not confirmed was one that was dealt with by way of written representations.

 

As you will now be aware, this procedure allows owners to make promises that their properties will be refurbished and returned to residential use without providing any supporting evidence whatsoever and without facing the close examination of those promises and proposals which would undoubtedly take place if they were presented at a Public Local Inquiry.

 

In short I would strongly suggest that LA's reject any suggestion put forward by the DCLG for objections to CPO's be dealt with under the written representations procedure and instead insist that they be addressed at a Public Local Inquiry.  

Hello,

I just want to say what a brilliant forum this is, I find it so helpful (especially as a reasonable newbie to the field).

I am starting the CPO process for the following property that has been empty for 10 years (it is a 3 storey mid terrace GF vacant commercial with empty 3 bed residential flat upstairs with a separate entrance from the GF). There has been a family dispute and the relationship between the brothers has broken down. Mediation has failed. One brother engages with me and claims he wants to renovate the rent out the property, however the other brother does not meet me onsite and allegedly is causing the block. 

We can definitely demonstrate housing need. I have a few questions:

1. The ownership is split between three people (a married couple and one of their brothers). The brother I met onsite yesterday states he has no documentation that he actually owns 50%, and he thinks it is unlikely that he can find any paperwork. I advised him to contact the solicitor who registered the sale and find any paperwork/deeds. Q1: If a sale goes through after a CPO we would need know what amount to pay each party. Does anyone have any advice on how to pay interested parties in this kind of situation? I will of course also seek advice from our internal solicitor.

2. The commercial unit is under the same ownership. Q2: When doing the CPO is there any issue for using the housing need argument when there it is a mixed use Commercial and Residential property?

3. The brother I met with yesterday asked if he can buy the whole property back to renovate and rent out if the CPO was successful. Q3: Has anyone come across anything similar? I would have concerns that it would be seen as bias towards one of the brothers.

4. With regards to the home loss payment. The front of the property is in an OK condition with some refuse at the rear. If it was enough to serve a S.215 the compliant brother may just comply with the removal of the refuse. I served a Housing Act 2004 Notice of Entry for HHSRS, however there was no slipped tiles etc and was secure, so not sure an appeal would hold up for a suspended/improvement notice.  Q4: Any tips?

Thanks in advance for any help given.

Becky