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Dangerous and Defective Building Notices

If your property needs repair work carried out to prevent significant deterioration or to remove a danger to people in or around it, the council can require you to do something about it. It may issue a defective building notice or dangerous building notice requiring you to put the problem right. If there is an immediate danger, the council can carry out temporary repair work to your property, without notifying you first.

What is a defective building notice?

If the council notices that your home needs repair work done which is likely to cause your property or a nearby property to deteriorate significantly, it can send you a defective building notice requiring you to put the problem right. For example, this could be the case if your house has a leaking roof or broken guttering, which could cause damp to enter your home or your neighbour's home.

The notice will specify what the defects are and will usually indicate what work is required to  rectify the defect. The notice also states when you should start the work (this must be at last seven days away) and when you should finish it (this must be at least 21 days after the start date). The council may extend this deadline if necessary.

What is a dangerous building notice?

If the council considers that your home is causing a danger or a potential danger to the people that live there, the general public, or other buildings nearby, it must take action. If the danger is not immediate, it will send you a dangerous building notice, ordering you to repair, secure or even demolish the property. The notice will state when you should start the work, and when it should be completed.

If the council considers that the dangers must be attended to immediately and you are not in a position or are unwilling to carry out the work, it will arrange for the necessary minimum work to be carried out to make the building safe.

Can I get any help to do the work?

The council doesn't have to offer you any help with the work. However, it will usually provide and advice and practical help, any may help you find a suitable contractor.

What if I don't do the work required?

It's an offence not to carry out the work specified in a defective or dangerous building notice. In addition, if you don't do the work start and/or complete the work within the deadline, the council will carry it out for you and recover its full expenses from you afterwards.

In an emergency, the council can take steps to:

  • evacuate the property
  • prevent people getting into it
  • carry out temporary repair works, for example, by cordoning off or shoring up the building.

The council doesn't need to notifying you first. It will then recover its full expenses from you.

As it is only concerned with carrying out the minimum works necessary to remove the danger, the council may carry out temporary works, for example, putting up hoardings to prevent access or knocking down an unsafe chimney rather than repairing it.

Can I appeal against the notice?

If you don't think the work specified in the notice is necessary, you can appeal to the sheriff court within 21 days of receiving the notice. You'll probably need help from a solicitor to do this, but you may be able to get legal aid to help cover the costs. The council can still carry out emergency repair work to remove a danger while the appeal is going through.

If you're not happy about the notice, it's best to contact the council first to discuss it with them. You may be able to reach a solution to the problem without the hassle and expense of going to court.

What if I have to move out?

If you live in the property, you may need to move out if the work is likely to endanger or greatly inconvenience you. Your buildings insurance may cover you for the costs of moving out temporarily – check your policy or call your insurer to find out if this is the case. In this situation, the council doesn't have a duty to find you a place to stay, unless you are legally homeless.

If you need to move out permanently, the council will have to rehouse you. In addition, you may be entitled to compensation, such as:

Tenants can find out more about their rights in the pages on while repairs are being done and eviction due to demolition or compulsory purchase.

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The important points

  • A defective building notice is used to get repairs carried out, that if they were ignored would cause damage to your and surrounding property.
  • A dangerous building notice is used if the council believes your home is causing danger or potential danger to the people who live there.
  • If you don't think the work specified in a notice is necessary, you can appeal to the sheriff court within 21 days of receiving the notice.

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