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Dangerous, dilapidated or insecure buildings & structures

People in control of buildings and other structures are responsible for ensuring that they do not deteriorate to such an extent that they can become a danger to other people and that unauthorised access is controlled.

Legal responsibilities

People in control of buildings and other structures are responsible for ensuring that they are maintained in a structurally safe condition, even if they are unoccupied.  Vacant buildings and structures must also be kept secure, to prevent unauthorised entry, or to prevent them becoming a danger to public health. The operators of active construction sites must also ensure that they are kept secure against unauthorised entry if there is a risk of injury to the public.

Moreover, if a building is in a “ruinous and dilapidated state” which is “prejudicial to the amenities of the neighbourhood” the local authority may require the owner to carry out any repair or restoration works necessary in the “interests of amenity”.

If you have control of any property you should ensure that it is regularly inspected and maintained by properly qualified professionals (such as structural engineers, surveyors or architects) to ensure it does not deteriorate to such an extent that it becomes a danger to others and that adequate controls are in place to prevent unauthorised entry.

What should I do if I think a building or site constitutes a danger to the public?

If you know who the owner is, particularly if it is a neighbour, you may wish to discuss your concerns with them in the first instance.

If you are concerned about any of the following you can report it to the Council using our on-line form: -

  • A building or structure in a dangerous condition (e.g. dangerously bowed wall or loose roof tiles that might fall on to passers-by)
  • A vacant building which is insecure and members of the public (particularly children and young people) can gain access.
  • A vacant building which is a danger to public health (e.g. has become a dumping ground for rubbish).
  • A building which is in a ruinous and dilapidated state and prejudicial to the amenities of the neighbourhood (this is not defined in law but may include buildings that have become a source of anti-social behaviour, a serious eyesore or an obstacle to regeneration of an area).

If you are concerned about unauthorised entry to an insecure construction site you should report it to the Health and Safety Executive

When will the Council take action?

In the case of dangerous structures, the law allows building control officers to take emergency action to do the minimum amount of work necessary to remove the danger. If the danger is not imminent the owner will be notified and given the opportunity to remove the danger immediately or a court order may be obtained requiring the removal of the danger or restricting the use of the building.

In order to be considered dangerous, a building or structure must actually pose a threat of causing harm to a person. Buildings which are dilapidated would not necessarily therefore be considered dangerous, and minor items (damaged timber fencing panels for example) are also unlikely to qualify.

In other cases, the Council may serve a notice on the person in control of the building requiring them to carry out specific work. The Council may do the work in default if it is not completed.

In all of the above circumstances the Council is not required to take any specific action and will prioritise cases which present an imminent and serious risk of injury to the public. If any work is carried out in default the Council will seek to recover its full costs from the person in control of the site.

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