Local authorities have significant powers to compulsorily acquire land. Recently, there has been a marked increase in certain local authorities compulsorily acquiring vacant properties for the purposes of the provision of social housing.
Housing Act, 1966
Part V of the Housing Act, 1966 gives local authorities a general power of compulsory purchase.
In order to acquire a piece of land or property, the local authority must serve on every owner, lessee and occupier of the land or property to which the CPO relates a notice stating the effect of the order. It must state that it is about to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála, Ireland’s planning authority, for confirmation and it must specify the time within which and how objections can be made.
Section 75 of the Housing Act, 1966 defines “owner” as a person, other than a mortgagee not in possession, who is for the time being entitled to dispose of the freehold of the land. It also includes any person in possession or reversion and any person holding or entitled to the rents and profits of the land under a lease or agreement where the unexpired term exceeds three years.
If no objection is received by An Bord Pleanála, it issues its decision to the local authority. The local authority may then confirm the order with or without modification, or may refuse to confirm the order.
A confirmed order becomes operative at the expiration of three weeks after the date of publication of the notice.
An application can be made for leave to judicially review the decision to confirm the order under section 50 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. This must be done within eight weeks of the date of publication of the notice.
Notice to Treat
When a CPO becomes operative and the local authority decides to proceed with the purchase, it serves a “Notice to Treat”. The notice requires the affected parties to submit details of their claim within a specified period. If agreement is not reached on the appropriate compensation to be paid, the matter may be referred by either party to a property arbitrator to assess compensation.
At any time after the service of a "Notice to Treat", the local authority may, on giving not less than 14 days’ notice in writing, enter on, take possession of and use the land.
Local authorities have significant powers to compulsorily acquire property and it is important to be aware of the relevant steps and timelines. An application can be made for leave to judicially review the decision to confirm a CPO under section 50 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. This must be done within eight weeks of the date of publication of the notice confirming the CPO.