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Work and demolition notices

If your home is falling into, or is already in, disrepair, the council can send you a work notice ordering you to carry out the necessary work to bring it back up to a reasonable standard. You don't have to live in a housing renewal area to be sent a work notice. If your home is dangerous or in a serious state of disrepair, the council may decide that it should be demolished.

What is a work notice?

A work notice is an order from the council to carry out repairs or improvements to your home. Work notices replaced the system of repair notices and improvement orders from April 2010.

You may be sent a work notice if your home is substandard – this means that it is below the tolerable standard, in serious disrepair, or in need of repair and likely to deteriorate rapidly and/or cause damage to other premises if nothing is done to repair it. You don't have to live in a housing renewal area (HRA) to be sent a work notice.

What should a work notice say?

The notice will set out the work you have to carry out and the standards to be met on completion. It will also explain why the council believes the work to be necessary, and will give you a deadline for getting the work done. The deadline will give you a reasonable amount of time to do the work in question, and must be at least 21 days after the notice comes into effect. In some circumstances, it may be possible to get the deadline extended.

The kind of work set out in the notice could be:

  • structural work, such as repairing the roof, chimney or walls or replacing windows,
  • work to improve the appearance of your home, such as painting walls, windows or doors
  • work to make the property more maintainable in the long term, such as mending guttering
  • work to bring your home above the tolerable standard.

What is a demolition notice?

A demolition notice is an order to demolish a property. The council can only send you a demolition notice if your home is within an HRA and is in a serious state of disrepair such that the council considers that it ought to be demolished.

If you don't live in an HRA but the council believes your home should be demolished, they can issue you with a dangerous building notice or a demolition order, depending on why the council thinks it ought to be demolished.

What should a demolition notice say?

The notice should explain why your house must be demolished, the standard to which the demolition ought to be completed, (including, for example, the way the area should be cleared afterwards) and when you need to do it by. The deadline must give you a reasonable amount of time to complete the demolition work, and must be at least 21 days after the order comes into effect. In some circumstances, it may be possible to get the deadline extended.

Who gets sent a work or demolition notice?

The council must send a copy of the notice to:

  • the owner and any occupiers (for example, tenants)
  • your mortgage lender, and any other lender you have a secured loan with
  • anyone who directly or indirectly receives rent on the home
  • any other person the council thinks might have an interest in the property (for example, a property manager or factor or letting agency).

What should I do if I get sent a demolition notice?

The council can only send you a demolition notice if your home is within a housing renewal area. This means that, during the HRA consultation period, you should already have been informed that your home needs to be demolished and been given a chance to ask the council to change its plans.

Can I appeal against the notice?

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 an agreement without the hassle and expense of going to court.

However, if you can't sort things out this way, you can appeal within 21 days of being sent the notice. In order to appeal, you need to make a summary application to the sheriff court. You'll need help from a solicitor to do this, but you may be able to get legal aid to help with the costs. If you appeal, the council can't enforce the notice until your appeal is decided or abandoned.

Anyone else who is sent a notice (for example, tenants and mortgage lenders) also has the right to appeal.

Can I get any help to do the work?

If you're given a work notice, the council has to offer you some form of help to carry out the repairs. The Act doesn't specify what kind of help this will be - it may be in the form of advice, help to find a contractor, or possibly a grant or loan.

The council doesn't have to offer you any help with demolition work, but may offer you some advice, for example, on how to find a contractor. Contact your local council to find out what the situation is in your area.

What if I can't do the work?

If you're not able to arrange for the work or demolition set out in a work or demolition notice to be done, you may be able to ask the council to arrange it for you, at your expense.

In some cases, the council may offer to do the work, for example, in cases where several flats in a tenement or block all have notices and it would be cheaper or more practical to do the work all at once.

If you can't do the work because it would harm the health of someone in your home you should let the council know. They may suspend the notice until the situation has changed.

You should also notify the council if:

  • you can't do the work because you can't get the rights you need (for example, you can't get access to the property, or you need tenants living in the house to move out and they refuse to leave), despite having tried to get those rights, or
  • you believe that the work or demolition will endanger someone.

In these cases, it will be easier for the council to do the work, as it has more powers, for example, to buy properties through compulsory purchase or evacuate unsafe buildings.

What if I don't do the work?

If you don't do the work or demolition notice by the deadline or extended deadline, the council can carry out the necessary work and then charge you for it. This may be more expensive than arranging the work yourself, as the council can charge you administration costs and interest.

Additional work

The council may decide, when carrying out the work or demolition notice, that additional work needs to be done which it didn’t previously know about. The council must give you 21 days' notice before carrying out this extra work (unless the situation is very urgent, or it is necessary in order to complete the other work), and can recover the costs from you for this additional work. You can appeal if you don't think the work is necessary.

Compulsory purchase orders

If you don't do the demolition work required by the notice and the council has to step in, it then has the option to buy your home and the site it's on, either by agreement with you or through a compulsory purchase order (CPO).

Find out more about CPOs.

How does the council get the money back?

If you don't comply with the notice, the council can recover any expenses it incurs doing the work, and can also charge interest on the amount owed. The council may give you the option to pay the money back in instalments. You can appeal to the sheriff court if the council sends you a notice to recover expenses.

If the council is demolishing your home, it can sell any materials from the demolition work, and the price raised will go towards paying off the cost.

The council can make a repayment charge requiring you to pay back the expenses in annual instalments over 30 years. The charge is registered in the Land Register, so that if you sell your home, the person who buys it will need to continue paying off the debt. However, you can pay off the repayment charge at any time to remove the charge from the Land Register.

Will I have to move out while work is being done?

If you live in the property, you may need to move out if the work is likely to endanger or greatly inconvenience you. You will of course have to move out if your home is being demolished. Your buildings insurance may cover you for moving out temporarily – check your policy or call your insurer to find out if this is the case.

If the council is doing the work, it must give you at least 14 days' notice before you need to leave. If you have nowhere safe to go, you can ask the council for help. Its homelessness or housing department should be able to offer you help to find somewhere to stay while the work is going on.

If you refuse to leave, the council can apply to the sheriff court for a warrant for ejection, ordering you to go. However, the sheriff will only grant the order if they're satisfied that you have somewhere else to go that's suitable for you.

If the order is granted and you still refuse to leave, sheriff officers remove you from your home. If you're in this situation, talk to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice.

Tenants can find out more about their rights if the council serves their landlord with a work notice.

Will the council rehouse me if my home is being demolished?

If you have to move out of your home permanently because it's going to be demolished as part of an HRA plan, the council must ensure that you are provided with suitable alternative living accommodation, provided that:

  • the property being demolished is your only or main residence at the point when the HRA was designated, and
  • you ask them to rehouse you.

It's important to note that this isn't an automatic process: the council will only ensure you are rehoused you if you ask them to.

If you are rehoused, the new accommodation must be:

  • suitable for you, and for any other person who would have been living there as their main residence at the point when the HRA was declared but were away because of work or study,
  • available on reasonable terms, and
  • within reasonable distance of the place you lived before, where practicable.

Will I get compensation if my home is demolished?

If your home is demolished, you may be able to claim compensation, such as:

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The important points

  • A work notice is an order from the council to carry out repairs or improvements to your home.
  • The notice will set out the work you have to carry out and the standards to be met on completion.
  • A demolition notice is an order to demolish a property, and can only be served on a property that is within a housing renewal area.
  • The notice should explain why your house must be demolished, the standard to which the demolition ought to be completed.

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