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Compensation payments for disturbance during repairs

This content applies to England & Wales

Disturbance payments, including eligibility for payment and disputes over payment.

Overview

Disturbance payments are made to compensate a residential occupier for reasonable expenses in moving from the house or land. People who do not qualify for a home loss payment, for example because they do not satisfy the residence requirement, may be entitled to a disturbance payment. The situations in which a disturbance payment can be made are broadly the same as those for home loss payments - see 'entitlement' on the page on Home loss payments. The main difference is that any acquisition of land by an authority with compulsory purchase powers is sufficient; the acquisition itself need not be compulsory.[1] Qualification is cumulative and occupiers may be entitled to both home loss payments and disturbance payments.

Provisions on the permanence of the displacement are the same as for home loss payments (see the page on home loss payments). However, any acquisition by an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers will suffice for entitlement; the acquisition itself does not need to be compulsory. The provisions use the term 'house or building' not dwelling, which is the term for home loss payments.

Eligibility

Disturbance payments can be paid to someone who is in 'lawful possession' of the land. Lawful possession does not include lodgers or those with merely a licence to occupy.

Eligibility for disturbance payments is also affected by the reason for the displacement. Where the displacement is due to acquisition by a local authority possessing compulsory purchase powers, disturbance payments are only payable where the applicant is not entitled to compensation through any other Act. This does not include home loss payments, which are payable at the same time.

Where displacement is due to a housing order, resolution or undertaking, no disturbance payment can be made if compensation is payable under section 584A of the Housing Act 1985. This compensation is available to owners of property subject to a Closing or Demolition Order so this exception will only apply to owner-occupiers.

Even if there is no entitlement, local authorities have discretion to make a payment by way of compensation for disturbance.[2]

Amount of disturbance payment

Disturbance payments cover 'reasonable expenses' incurred by the entitled person during moving.[3] People who are displaced from properties that have been adapted for disabled people are entitled to the comparable cost of those modifications.[4]

The meaning of 'reasonable expenses' has been examined in the courts and it has been held that they refer to expenses that relate strictly to the move, and expenses reasonably incurred as a direct and natural consequence of the displacement.[5] Redecoration expenses, re-connection charges and redirection of mail are likely to be allowed.[6] Claiming for carpeting because carpets from a former dwelling do not fit may also be allowed (although not in Nolan, where rose bushes lost during the removal were allowed).[7] Some local authorities only allow payments for soft furnishings such as carpets, but exclude 'hard' items such as fixed beds or fitted wardrobes that cannot be moved to the new home. This is possibly because in Nolan new kitchen cupboards that had to be bought because those in the former dwelling could not be removed were not allowed. Each case must be treated on its own merits.[8]

Disputes

Disputes concerning the amount of disturbance payment can be heard by the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber),[9] but it cannot determine whether there is an entitlement to a payment in the first place.[10] In a case where an applicant failed to mitigate losses by refusing to accept a ground-floor local authority flat and moved into temporary accommodation when the authority had made a Closing Order on the landlord, there was no entitlement to compensation for losses while s/he was in the temporary accommodation.[11]

[1] s.37(1)(a) Land Compensation Act 1973.

[2] s.37(5) Land Compensation Act 1973.

[3] s.38(1)(a) Land Compensation Act 1973.

[4] s.38(3) Land Compensation Act 1973.

[5] Glasgow Corporation v Anderson 1970 SLT 225 Court of Session.

[6] Nolan v Sheffield MDC [1979] 38 P&CR 741, LT.

[7] Nolan v Sheffield MDC [1979] 38 P&CR 741, LT.

[8] Glasgow Corporation v Anderson [1976] SLT 225.

[9] Tribunal Procedure (Amendment No.3) Rules 2013 SI 2013/1188.

[10] s.38(4) Land Compensation Act 1973.

[11] Adam v Woking BC [2000] RVR 329, LT.

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