Powers of entry for vacant properties

Hello, does anyone know under what act or legislation an empty homes officer can enter vacant properties without a warrant or prior written consent from the owners.

Env health seem to be able to do this under section 108 of the Environment Act, however this seems more related to pollution and I'm not sure it is entirly relevent, there are also powers under the prevention of pests act, but again I am sceptical of its relevence.

Does anyone currently have this power, and if so where did you aquire it.

Thank you for your help

Luke Taylor

Forums: 
Other enforcement

Luke. Section 29 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 is your bread and butter. It places a duty on local authorities to make insecure property secure. Having granted  this power the legislators (unusually for law makers) added a power of entry. It's common sense really; you don't want to board anyone inside do you?
Section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 also gives a power of entry after service of a notice to carry out a survey prior to compulsory purchase. Compulsory purchase is your bottom line with any empty home so it's no problem to serve the notice and do the survey..after all not all Compulsory Purchase proceedures come to fruition in the form of an actual CPO.
There are other powers under Sec 80 Environmental Protection Act 1990, Sec 4 Prevention of damage by Pests Act 1949 and Sec 79 of the Public Health Act 1936, but the above two are the ones I commonly use (next to straight tresspass. After all tresspass isn't a crime and the whole point is it's an empty house; there's no one in...no one's going to complain) 

Sorry to be a killjoy, but I am slightly concerned about using Section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to enter an Empty Property.  This is because Section 15, to me, only appears to permit entry onto “Land”, but not premises or property.  However, as I said, this is my opinion not that of a legally qualified person.
For entry into secured empty properties, I have been advised to obtain a warrant by LBC’s Legal Dept under s.54 or s.600.  However, if it works for you, I should not knock it!
Phillip Hanson

Housing Act 1985 section 54 (mentioned by Phillip) applies where "survey or examination ... is necessary ... to determine whether any powers under this Part should be exercised".   That Part of the Act includes section 17 on acquisition of land for housing purposes (ie a CPO).   Its limitation is that it has no provision for obtaining a magistrate's warrant if access is refused.
More useful is Housing Act 2004 section 239.   This applies where "survey or examination ... is necessary ... to determine whether any functions under any of Parts 1-4 should be exercised".   Part 4 includes EDMOs.    Section 240 provides for obtaining a magistrate's warrant if access is refused.
Graham Everett

Hi Luke,
We have used s15 LGMPA76 with respect to gaining access to inspect the property for valuation purposes for CPpowers.
A letter is sent to the owner asking for access to allow and inspection. The letter specifies time and date. An officer then attends at the appointed time. If access is not gained. A second letter is sent advising that they failed to attend and a further appt is advised. (usually 2 weeks later) On the second occasion a lock smith is in attendance. Access is gained, property inspected and the property is secured prior to leaving site.
A third letter is then sent to the owner advising of the action taken and where they can pick up the keys (to the new lock) You usually then get a response.
Let me have your email and I will forward you the letters we have had agreed by legal.
There are also powers available under the HA2004 to gain access to inspect but you need to be fairly sure that there is a category 1 hazard inside the property and this might be stretching the power a bit if you were to be challenged later on in any action you took.
Placing notices on doors of empty properties have 2 advantages in that it can flush out the owner and the neighbours who have complained also note that you are actually doing something and gain an appreciation of how difficult it can prove to trace an owner who does not want to be traced.
Hope this helps,
Sue Dixon Senior EHO.
East Riding of Yorks Council  
 

Hi Sue
I just wondered if you would be able to forward me the letters that you use for your Power of Entry on empty properties - my email address is nicola.bryant@gedling.gov.uk - I would be most grateful if you don't mind of course - just sussing out whether to carry out this course of action on a few empty properties in the Borough.
Kind regards

Nikki Bryant
Empty Homes Officer

Luke

We often use powers of entry provided under Section 22 of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949.  It is not difficult to find good reason for using this.

Regards

 

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

I would say that you need to be clear as to the purpose for which you are seeking entry. If it is on environmental health grounds, then you should use the appropriate legislation. If however you are wanting to enter the property with a view to compulsory purchase, then you should use section 172 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (references to land include a property/a house). Section 15 LGMPA76 referred to above has been repealed by the HPA 2016 and can no longer be used.

Section 172 says:

A person authorised in writing by an acquiring authority may, at a reasonable time, enter and survey or value land in connection with a proposal to acquire an interest in or a right over land, whether that land is the land which is the subject of the proposal or other land. 'Acquiring authority' means a person who could be authorised to acquire compulsorily the land to which the proposal relates.

The acquiring authority must give every owner or occupier of land at least 14 days' notice before the first day on which it intends to enter the land in exercise of the power conferred by section 172, and such notice must include a statement of the recipient's rights under s 176. The person must, if required when exercising or seeking to exercise the power conferred by section 172, produce evidence of the authorisation.

If the land is unoccupied or the occupier is absent from the land when the person enters it, the person must leave it as secure against trespassers as when the person entered it.

A justice of the peace may issue a warrant authorising a person to use force in the exercise of the power conferred by section 172 if satisfied (1) that another person has prevented or is likely to prevent the exercise of that power; and (2) that it is reasonable to use force in the exercise of that power. The person may not use force unless a justice of the peace has issued a warrant authorising the person to do so.

Please do seek your own legal advice as to the appropriate powers you should be using according to the circumstances of each situation. Your own legal team should be able to help you.

Fiona Anthony, nplaw