Validity of Service of Planning Enforcement Notices

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In the case of London Borough of Newham v Miah and another [2016] EWHC 1043 the High Court held that a Local Authority had correctly served an enforcement notice on the property owner at the address given in the proprietorship register on the Land Registry title for the property.

Mr Miah had acquired the property in 2007. As a result of council tax information, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) began an enquiry into whether the property had been subdivided. In 2010 they issued an enforcement notice against the change of use of the property, to two self-contained flats, without planning permission. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides that the LPA may leave the enforcement notice at the recipients “usual or last known place of abode”.
The notice was served at the property address, to the mortgagee and to the tenants of the two flats at the property. The LPA used the Land Registry title proprietorship register to ascertain the Mr Miah’s home address, rather than relying on council tax records. The Land Registry address was not up to date and he no longer resided at the property. As a result, Mr Miah was not informed and two years letter a letter of non-compliance was served.

Mr Miah argued that if he had known about the initial enforcement notice he would have appealed against it and that he was not aware that the Land Registry address needed to be updated. He stated that he should not be prejudiced by the council’s failure to cross-check addresses and obtain his correct home address from the council tax system.

The High Court held that for the service of an enforcement notice, the statutory framework clearly pointed to the knowledge of the LPA, not the council as a whole. The LPA should not be expected to trawl through other council records to find a correct address. If the LPA was not aware of an individual’s address, relying on the proprietorship register was sufficient. Therefore, the Defendant was properly served with the notice.

Although this decision is not new law, it serves as a helpful reminder to registered proprietors to always ensure that their address details held by the Land Registry are kept up to date.

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