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Emergency proceedings

This content applies to England & Wales

The action a local authority can take where a statutory nuisance is of immediate prejudice to health.

Delays in the enforcement procedures within the Environmental Protection Act 1990 can make it inappropriate for tackling situations that are of immediate prejudice to health, such as leaking waste pipes. The Building Act 1984includes a streamlined procedure for use in urgent cases.[1]

Where a local authority is satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists and that following the usual procedure would cause unreasonable delay, it may serve the landlord with a notice outlining the defects and stating its intention to do the works necessary to remedy the defects.[2]

Nine days after service of the notice, the local authority may carry out all the necessary work identified and may recover its costs and expenses from the person on whom the notice was served.[3] Landlords can prevent this procedure taking effect only if, within seven days of service of the notice, they serve a counter notice upon the authority that they intend to remedy the defects.[4] The authority then cannot act unless:

  • the landlord fails to start the remedial works within a reasonable time or
  • having been started, the remedial works proceed unreasonably slowly or make no progress at all.[5]

The local authority must therefore closely monitor the situation. In either of these circumstances, the local authority can carry out the works in default and recover the full costs from the landlord. In cases of serious statutory nuisance, this procedure is often the most effective way to get works carried out.

[1] ss.76-83 Building Act 1984.

[2] s.76 Building Act 1984.

[3] s.76(2) Building Act 1984.

[4] s.76 (3) Building Act 1984.

[5] ibid.

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