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Where you stand with compulsory purchase order
With the recent announcement of an extension to Heathrow through their newly approved third runway, alongside HS2 plans, many people are rightfully worrying about their house and what may happen to it. Many households have discovered over recent months that they will be living right next to, or in the same place, as where the new train line or runway will be.
After discovering that this could be the case, your house could be subject to a compulsory purchase order (CPO). These orders allow public bodies to force homeowners to sell their property if it obstructs a regeneration project or it is for the ‘greater public good’.
Local authorities, highways authorities, English partnerships, regional development agencies and English Heritage (in Greater London only) can issue these orders. Private individuals and companies don’t have the power to take you to court to make you sell your home, however public bodies can.
To protect homeowners, the public body applying for a CPO has to prove the scheme they are behind is for the ‘greater public good’ and not for private gain. Even after a CPO has been issued, you still cannot be forced to sell your house, land or property.
The order sees the authority only applying to a government department for powers to be able to force you to sell. However, depending on what you and any other properties in your area that are affected do, it can take months, if not years, before these powers can be secured; if they can be secured at all.
The criteria that needs to be filled for a CPO
There are a number of different criteria that need to be filled in order for a CPO to be granted to a public body. These include:
- It must be a compelling case in the public interest – whether you are proposing a new road, shopping centre or an airport runway, the scheme must be for the greater public good if houses are going to be demolished.
- A CPO must be a last resort – public bodies should be able to show that they have exhausted any and all other options by negotiating with you first.
- Market value of the property should be paid – this can vary massively due to a fall in house prices over recent years. Homeowners may be entitled to 7.5% to 10% extra dependent on circumstances. Surveyor or solicitor fees should also be paid for you, if you need to use them for negotiation of sale. You can also claim disturbance compensation to cover costs of buying somewhere else and recover losses from your existing home such as carpets, disconnections and reconnections etc.
My property is subject to a CPO, what can I do?
There are things you can do to protect your home and fight for your property/land if you are affected by a CPO. These include:
- When you suspect someone is trying to get a CPO for your home, you should contact the council. They can inform you of which public body it is.
- You should then contact the body to find out more. Keep records of all correspondence, you may need it especially if the case goes to court. Also keep a record of all expenses relating to the CPO to claim them back. Be aware that you will not receive money back for expenses made more expensive by your own action.
- You can object to a CPO by writing to the appropriate Government minister. The contact details for this person should be provided to you by the body trying to acquire your property.
- A solicitor or chartered surveyor can help you when it comes to objecting or negotiating a CPO.
- You can get help paying for legal advice from Citizens Advice or the Legal Services Commission. They will advise you on means-tested help for a solicitor to prepare your case.
- You can object to parts of the proposal and only want to make small changes to it or you can object to the entire scheme. As there are many rules relating to complaints and objections, it is worth employing the services of a chartered surveyor to do this for you as they have experience and know the rules that need to be adhered to.
- If your objection is not upheld at public inquiry, you can carry on challenging the CPO in the High Court, however this must be done within six weeks. Claims that will be considered by the High Court include:
- Powers granted in the CPO go beyond powers permitted.
- The minister or inspector has not acted properly to reach their decision.
- The procedural rules have not been followed.
- For more information on your options surrounding compulsory purchase, visit the homeowner’s association website.
Compulsory purchase is a tricky and complicated matter and as a result, a lot of people do not understand their rights when planning for a new scheme puts their home in danger. There is a lot to take into account and for that reason it is important that you obtain advice from a chartered surveyor, solicitor or other professional who has experience dealing with these orders.
For more information regarding compulsory purchase, visit the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) website.