This is a clever little trick up the sleeves of a Local Planning Authority to ensure property owners keep on top of their maintenance - that's serving a Section 215 notice under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.
Although the planning system is mainly about gaining permission for new buildings and changes, this allows a planning authority to also step-in if needs be forcing a property owner to buck-up their ideas and get their property looking ship-shape.
It isn’t that common, but handy to know when it can apply and how to respond if you do ever receive such a formal notice.
In particular, there are three factors to note all beginning with the letter ‘R’:
1. The Receiving Party
They’re technically issued to the property owner, which in most cases will of course be the freeholder.
However, it’s worth noting that with longer lease interests that are lodged with Land Registry with the tenant as the legal proprietor, then tenants may receive this direct. If their landlord does not also receive this, their lease may oblige them to forward this on to them as well.
2. The Reason Why
It should be all about the condition of the property (or even just piece of land) that is believed to be harming the amenity of the local area.
A popular scenario may be a pile of rubbish at a property that looks awful, but this can also include say the actual poor condition of the property having a knock-on effect to the neighbouring area.
An interesting case example is Lisle-Mainwaring v Kensington and Chelsea RLBC (2016) regarding someone painting their house in red and white stripes. Although at first this was a successful notice, particularly when considering that the property was in a Conservation Area, upon appeal it was more border-line as it was less to do with the actual condition and disrepair of the property affecting the area, just the plain old aesthetics and poor looks.
3. The Response Back
If it’s a successful case, then there are powers of enforcement and even worst-case the local Planning Authority being able to enter the premises to carry out any necessary works to remedy the issue and recharge the owner.
There are of course powers of appeal, and hopefully in reality a sensible solution without excessive costs and hassle being involved.
Therefore, these section 215 notices can be a surprise from a local authority, which is along the planning lines and the condition of a property having such a detrimental effect to the amenity of the locality.
There are of course other angles a local authority might take, for example a repairs or structure notice, plus other specific ones regarding residential let properties.
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