This one has come up twice this week in regards to two different local authorities and as such, we thought it was time to give its own dedicated blog post so in future we can direct you here for your answers and you can find them on google.
To be here in the first place I am going to assume you know that if you are undertaking any construction works that fall within the Party Wall etc. act 1996 you need to serve a Party Wall Notice on the adjoining owners. If that’s not the case you can read about Party Wall Notices Here
So you have begun your due diligence ran your land registry searches which you can do by following this link, the current price is £3 each for a title register and plan. Upon searching you discover that the building is owned by the local authority and you panic how do you serve a local authority? can you serve a local authority? I bet no one else has to do this?
I bet no one else has to do this?
This isn’t an unusual position to be in Local Authorities and their ALMOS and holding companies are very large landowners to its inevitable that eventually, you will get a property which is owned by a local authority.
Can I serve a Local Authority?
Yes, in fact, you have to there is no exemption for Local Authorities they have to serve notices and receive them in exactly the same manner as everyone else on thing from personal experience dealing with these things within local authorities is that inevitably you will likely end up with a dissent either because it didn’t end up with the correct person or the local authority automatically takes up a position of dissent as default.
So our advice here is to expect this when you serve the notice as well as the official address, remember to add the correct department in at a corner of the envelope just to help guide it i.e Building Services, Property Services or Housing Services depending on the authority and the type of property you are serving it on.
How do you serve a local authority?
Exactly the same method as you would if they were not a local authority it really is no different, sent it to the address registered at the land registry indicating where you think it should go in another corner for speed if you know of a local office that would deal with this property you are free to send a copy there just make it clear it is a copy, not trying to serve them there.
Once you’ve done this as mentioned above you may need to follow this up with a 10(4) notice if there has been no response within the statutory minium 10 days, which is usually the case and this will then begin to focus the minds and get you the response you need.
Are Local Authority tenants owners under the act?
This answer is not as easy as we would like it to be the simple answer is they could well be, lots of residential council tenants particularly those who have been in there home a long time could well be owners under the act, as their tenancy is for more than 1 year, our advice here is to ask the local authority when you serve them if about the tenancy and if they are an owner under the act.
For commercial property, it is likely that the tenant has a lease of more than 1 year and as such is likely to be an owner under the act.
Planning is key when serving the local authority
If you are planning on serving your local authority this should help, don’t forget we offer serving notices on your behalf and other services and are happy to offer advice on your plans and the next steps. When it comes to serving notices our advice is always the same don’t leave it to the last minute, leave time to have dissent and to ask questions about other possible owners.