Building owners have a legal responsibility for preventing their buildings falling into a dangerous condition. Regular inspections or surveys of your building by competent persons will help you in meeting your obligation to ensure that it is not a hazard and to plan for future repairs.
The powers given to local authorities in respect of dangerous buildings under Section 29 do not diminish this responsibility but are merely a ‘safety net’ that must be used to protect the public when it appears to a local authority that, for whatever reason, a building owner has failed in their duty to fulfil this responsibility.
Should a local authority become aware of a building that constitutes a danger to persons in or about the building, to the public generally or to adjacent buildings or places, then it has a duty to act. This duty to act is normally performed by the Local Authority’s Building Standards Service.
The local authority must carry out such work (including, if necessary, demolition) as it considers necessary to prevent access to the dangerous building and to any adjacent parts of any road or public place which appear to be dangerous because of the state of the building. Any other work considered necessary for the protection of the public and persons or property in places adjacent to the dangerous building must also be carried out. Reasonable expenses may be recovered from the owner(s) – see recovery of costs section
Where the local authority considers that other urgent action is needed to reduce or remove the danger it may carry out the necessary work and recover the costs from the owner. In most cases, however, the local authority will serve on the owner a notice to do the work. See Dangerous Buildings Notices
Local Authorities are committed to treating any report of a dangerous building as a priority issue, and will promptly investigate any report. This service, normally be provided by your Local Authority’s Building Standards Service, will be on a 24 hour-a-day, 7 days-a-week basis. Please do not report a possible dangerous building via email, contact your Local Authority by phone using the contact numbers provided on their website.
In many instances the danger presented by a building is easily established. Depending on the degree of risk and the simplicity of remedial work it may be possible for the local authority to negotiate a solution with the building owner without taking formal action. For the local authority to consider such an arrangement it is imperative the owner agrees at once and confirms as appropriate to the local authority that they will immediately arrange to undertake the measures required. The advantage with this approach is an owner should be able to arrange either temporary or permanent solutions in the time it would take an authority to effect only emergency work, using the normal notice procedures etc. However, an owner that fails to achieve the negotiated solution can expect the local authority to take action swiftly.
In some cases the action of the local authority may involve the serving of a dangerous building notice and no immediate action may be necessary e.g. where the building is unoccupied and adequately isolated from the public. In most instances, however, some emergency work will be needed to prevent access to the building, for example, security fencing, or to carry out temporary work, for example, shoring, and perhaps permanent work, for example, repairs to reduce/remove the danger.
In some cases partial or total demolition work may be done by an authority where this is the only appropriate solution. Reasonable expenses incurred for any such work may be recovered from the building owner(s) - see recovery of costs section
The principal Act is the Building (Scotland) Act 2003
More information is available from the Building (Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and the Procedural Handbook Third Edition Version 1.4 February 2015