This question follows on from a question asked last year by a colleague in the same section of this forum.
I wonder what your experiences are in carrying out works in default for non compliance of an IMP notice on an empty property where there is a non-compliant owner who refuses access or where the owner has simply abandoned the property and you cannot trace them.
Our legal team have agreed with the below which makes it problematic to carry out works in default. In contrast, I have heard of empty homes officers who have carried out works by allowing themselves in with the keys they changed at executing the warrant stage
I have served an s239 power of entry to inspect an empty property. No access
Go to court, obtain a warrant under s240 for the purposes of survey or examination in order to carry out an inspection under section 4(1) of the Act
Execute warrant, change locks and carry out HHSRS inspection and eventually serve Improvement notice.
Notice expires and serve a s239 to check compliance. No access (although I have a set of keys I do not enter the property)
Go to court, obtain a warrant under s240 for the purposes of survey of premises which are (within the meaning of Part 1 of the Act) specified premises in relation to an improvement notice or prohibition order
Inspect property and confirm no works have been done and notice not complied with.
Serve s31, schedule 3, part 2 Power to take action without agreement notice but again owner does not provide access (again I could use the keys but I do not enter the property)
Move to s35 power of court to order occupier or owner to allow action to be taken on premises. This I have been advised does not act as a warrant allowing me access but requires the owner to provide us access. However, we have a non-compliant owner so cannot get access to do the works. You can prosecute the owner and there is a fine per day for every day the failure continues but have been told this is not registered against the property. As such no works in default have been carried out and no large debt been created.
I understand there are other powers, legislation and the like but what do people think and have they come across similar concerns and ways of doing things specific to IMP notices? Or is my legal team being overly cautious?