Homelessness and the Need to Make Use of Vacant Investment Properties

15th October 2020 By

Amidst widespread homelessness, owners of investment properties who allow them to stand empty for extended periods can find themselves on the receiving end of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs). Exactly that happened in a case concerning a desirable end-of-terrace property which had been vacant for 25 years.

The house was located in an urban area where about 5,000 people were in urgent, high or medium need of permanent accommodation. The local authority took the view that the property’s vacant status since 1994, combined with its deteriorating condition, was detrimental to the area’s amenities.

On the basis that the public interest demanded the house’s return to residential use, the council exercised its powers under the Acquisition of Land Act 1981 and the Housing Act 1985 to serve a CPO on its owner. Post acquisition, the council planned to auction the property to a buyer who was willing to refurbish it.

In challenging the order, the property’s owner said that the chronic depression and anxiety from which he had suffered for several years had affected his engagement with the council and prevented him from taking steps to bring the house back into use. There was no dispute that his condition amounted to a disability.

In dismissing his appeal, however, the High Court rejected arguments that the council had breached its duties under the Equality Act 2010. It had neither discriminated against him on grounds of his disability nor failed to make reasonable adjustments to cater for his condition. His plea that the CPO violated his human right to peacefully enjoy his private property also fell on fallow ground.

In an attempt to find a less draconian solution, the council had for many years sought to cooperate with the owner. It took the rational view that the real reason for the lack of progress was that the owner lacked the funds required to refurbish the house. In also finding the CPO proportionate, the Court noted that it was an investment property in respect of which the council would pay full market value. There were compelling reasons for making the CPO in the public interest.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Challenge to Will's Validity Rejected by High Court

12th April, 2024 By

The best way to ensure your assets will be distributed as you wish is to have your will professionally drafted by a qualified solicitor. In a recent case, a challenge to the validity of an elderly man's will was dismissed by the High Court. The man had previously made a will in 2011, leaving most of his estate equally to his three children. In 2018, by which time one of his sons had predeceased him, he made a further will, leaving the residue of his estate to his other son...

Defiance of Family Court Orders Will Always End Badly

10th April, 2024 By

Custodial sentences very rarely come into play in the family courts. Where there have been repeated breaches of court orders, however, judges may have little choice but to clamp down. This was illustrated in the High Court during committal proceedings that stemmed from a child custody dispute. The background to the case involved contested proceedings between the father and mother of a young child. These concluded with a court order establishing that the child – a daughter – would live with the mother. Three months later the daughter travelled with...

Claim for SDLT Relief on Annex Unsuccessful

8th April, 2024 By

When buying a property consisting of more than one residence, it may be possible to claim multiple dwellings relief (MDR) against Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). However, there are certain conditions that must be met for an MDR claim to succeed, as a recent case illustrates. A property was purchased for £1.8 million. Prior to the purchase, the buyer had agreed with the seller that he would be allowed to carry out works to construct a self-contained annex at the property. The buyer's SDLT return included a claim for MDR...

Divorce – Alleged Bigamy Raised in Financial Remedies Dispute

5th April, 2024 By

The issue of bigamy and its potential impact on a person's ability to seek financial remedies in a divorce came under the legal spotlight recently. A husband made an application to strike out his wife's financial remedies claim on the basis that she had committed bigamy and deceived him into a marriage when she knew she was not free to marry. This deceit, he claimed, was so egregious that, as a matter of public policy, she should be debarred from pursuing any claim for financial remedies against him. The husband based...