Buildings can become dangerous at any time and for many reasons, ranging from old age, ground movement, poor maintenance, vehicle impact, vandalism, or design defects, to more dramatic causes, such as fire, explosion, or storm damage.
What is a dangerous structure?
The term 'dangerous structure' covers buildings and parts of buildings, such as loose slates or tiles, as well as garden walls, fences, and hoardings adjacent to a public highway.
Dangerous structures fall mainly into 2 categories:
- Imminently: Structures that are at risk of collapse next to the public highway and must be secured for public safety. The owner will normally be charged for emergency works carried out in these cases.
- Hazardous: Structures that (following a survey) are deemed unstable but not imminently dangerous. In these cases, the owner is given time to remove the danger. Failure to do so may result in a Magistrates Court Order being obtained.
Please note: Defective garden walls and fences between properties (not adjacent to the public highway) are considered a civil matter and should be resolved between neighbours.
Report a dangerous structure
Our Building Control department is required to ensure the structures of the borough are safe and do not pose a threat to residents or their property.
While Building Control surveyors have powers to deal with dangerous structures, they are not the enforcing authority for unsafe working practices on construction sites.
What happens after you've reported a dangerous structure?
- Where necessary, the danger will be removed immediately by the council's own specialist contractors, under the supervision of an experienced senior building control officer who ensures the work is carried out in the most suitable way.
- If the above action takes place at your property, we'll make every effort to contact you first. If this is not possible, a card will be left at the premises explaining what action had to be taken and who should be contacted for further advice.
- If your property is in a dangerous condition, but not considered an immediate danger, we'll serve a formal dangerous structure notice. We'll give you reasonable time to respond and offer a point of contact for further guidance.
- There's a charge for dealing with dangerous structures to cover reasonable administration costs and our contractor's charges.
- Where minor defects are found in properties, we'll carry out an inspection where possible, and offer informal advice on the best way to rectify the problem.
- Health and Safety Executive - for guidance on safe working practices and to report concerns of unsafe working practices
- Environmental Agency - for information and help on the regulation of waste control, treatment of contaminated land, securement of water quality, inland river, conservation and ecology