Demolition and closing orders

If you don't live in a housing action area (HRA) but your home is substandard, the council can issue you with a demolition order. If your home forms part of a larger building, it can send you a closing order, which prevents anyone from living in the property. This page looks at what you can do if you're sent a demolition or closing order.

What is a closing order?

If a closing order is issued for your home, it means that the property can no longer be used as living accommodation. The council can send you a closing order if your home is below the tolerable standard but is part of a building in which other properties are not. For example, this may be the case if you own a flat which is in a bad state of repair, in a tenement in which the other flats are kept in good condition. Once a closing order comes into effect, it's an offence to live in the home, or allow anyone else to live there.

What is the tolerable standard?

The tolerable standard is a very basic level of repair that your home must meet if it's to be fit for you to live in. Your home may not be fit to live in if:

  • it has problems with rising or penetrating damp

  • it's not structurally stable (for example, it might be subsiding)

  • it does not have enough ventilation, natural and artificial light or heating

  • it's not insulated well enough

  • it does not have an acceptable fresh water supply or a sink with hot and cold water

  • it does not have an indoor toilet, a fixed bath or shower and a washbasin with hot and cold water

  • it does not have a good drainage and sewerage system

  • the electric supply does not meet safety regulations

  • it does not have a proper entrance

  • it does not have a proper entrance

  • it does not have suitable smoke and fire alarms

  • there are no cooking facilities – this does not mean the landlord has to provide a cooker, but there must be somewhere suitable for you to install your own

What is a demolition order?

In Scotland If the council is concerned that your home is below the tolerable standard and cannot be brought back up to standard, it can send you a demolition order. A demolition order requires you to leave the property within 28 days of receiving the order, and to demolish the property within the next six weeks.

What should I do if I'm sent a closing order or demolition order?

If you've done work on the property and you don't think it is below the tolerable standard any more, you should contact the council straightaway.

If your home is below standard, you may decide to carry out the necessary work to bring it into good condition. In this case you should contact the council within 21 days of receiving the order. You'll need to put down in writing what you plan to do to improve the condition of the property, and when you're going to do it. Alternatively, if you've received a demolition notice, you can send the council a written undertaking that the property won't be used for living accommodation.

If the council accepts this, it can suspend the closing or demolition order for a year. At this point, you'll need to ask the council to renew the suspension. If the council believes you are breaking the terms of the agreement (for example, you aren't carrying out repairs according to your plan), it can revoke the suspension.

Once the council is satisfied that you have successfully brought the property up to standard, it will revoke the closing or demolition order.

If the council doesn't approve your plan to improve the home or not use it for living accommodation, it will ask you to proceed with closing or demolishing the property.

Can I get any help with the work?

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

Can I appeal against a closing or demolition order?

If you're not happy about the order, you can appeal to the sheriff court within 21 days of receiving the order. 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.

You can also appeal if the council refuses to revoke an order after you've carried out the necessary work to bring the home up to standard.

However, if you're not happy about being sent an order, 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 don't comply with a closing order?

If you don't move out of the property, or you let anyone else live there (for example, a tenant), this is a criminal offence, and you could receive a fine and/or a prison sentence of up to three months.

What if I don't comply with a demolition order?

If the council orders you to demolish your property and you don't do so within the specified deadline, the council can carry out the work for you, then recover the expenses from you. However, the council can sell off any materials left over from the demolition, and deduct this from the cost.

It's probably best to carry out the work yourself, as it is likely to be cheaper, and you'll also have more control over how and when the work is done.

How does the council get the money back?

If the council carries out the work, it will send you a bill setting out the costs. If you can't pay the money back, the council can make a charging order. This is a long-term loan which you pay back in annual instalments over 30 years. The charge is registered in the relevant 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 full amount at any time, to remove the charge from the

Can the council buy my home?

In some situations the council may decide to buy your home, either through agreement with you or through a compulsory purchase order.

Can I claim compensation?

If you have to move out because your home is being closed down or demolished, or bought via a CPO, you may be able to claim compensation, such as:

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Last updated: 31 January 2020

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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