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Could Building Control do more to help the Homeless

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on July 5, 2011 at 5:10 AM

With reports that 40,000 families could be made homeless, it is shocking to learn that according to charity Empty Homes statistics* show that in 2010 more than 735,000 houses in England were sitting empty, many in a state of dereliction or ruin. It has encouraged local authorities to take note of the recently announced New Homes Bonus, which includes both new homes and empty properties brought back into use.

However, councils already have powers under the Building Act 1984 to issue notices to deal with dilapidated buildings and neglected sites, but are loathed to use them. Today we asked Grant Shapps MP on twitter to disclose how many notices under the Building Act sections 76 and 79 had been served in 2010.

Current powers include .

Section 76, Building Act 1984: Defective premises.

Power: Under this section, the Council may issue an abatement notice when it believes that any premises are in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance and unreasonable delay in remedying the defective state would be occasioned by following the procedure prescribed by section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Council can carry out the works in default nine days after service of the notice. Costs: The Council may recover expenses incurred in abating the nuisance..

Section 79, Building Act 1984: Ruinous and dilapidated buildings and neglected sites .

Power: Under this section, the Council may serve notice where:.

(a) the building or structure is in a ruinous or dilapidated condition, or (b) where rubbish or other material resulting from, or exposed by, the collapse of a building or structure is lying on the site or on any adjoining land, and, in either case, is seriously detrimental to the amenities of the neighbourhood..

The notice can require the owner to execute works of repair or restoration and take such steps as may be necessary in the interests of amenity. Costs: The Council may recover expenses incurred in carrying out the works in default. It should be noted that an order does not override any need to obtain any necessary consents for listed buildings, buildings subject to building preservation notices or buildings in conservation areas..

. In recent years Building Control departments across the UK seem to have become focussed on competing with the private sector for processing building control applications, rather than enforcing the other legislative requirements of the Building Act. Building Control departments should be encouraged to focus resources on enforcement and ensuring that public interest is served through bringing these properties back into use..


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