Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014
Abandoned local authority dwellings
14. (1) For the purposes of this section and section 15 and in relation to the calculation of any period of abandonment of a dwelling, a dwelling continues to remain abandoned during such period notwithstanding any occasional visit to the dwelling by the tenant or a member of his or her household for the purpose of removing from the dwelling any property and for any other purpose that is incidental to the first-mentioned purpose.
(2) This section applies where the rent payable in respect of a dwelling the subject of a tenancy agreement between the housing authority and the tenant is in arrears for a period of not less than one month and the authority has reasonable grounds for believing that—
(a) the dwelling has not been occupied by the tenant or a member of his or her household for a continuous period of more than 6 weeks, and
(b) that household does not intend to occupy the dwelling as its normal place of residence, and either—
(i) there is a risk of non-minor damage, or of unquantifiable damage that could be of a non-minor nature—
(I) to the dwelling due to vandalism, or
(II) to the dwelling, or to any neighbouring property, due to any electrical, water or gas supply situated in that dwelling,
(ii) steps are necessary to prevent entry to the dwelling by trespassers or other unauthorised persons.
(3) Subject to subsection (4), a housing authority may enter a dwelling to which this section applies for the purpose of—
(a) securing the dwelling and any of its fittings and fixtures against vandalism,
(b) rendering safe any electrical, water or gas supply situated in that dwelling, or
(c) securing the dwelling against trespassers.
(4) Except with the consent of the tenant, or where the housing authority has reasonable grounds for believing that—
(a) there is an imminent risk of damage of a type referred to in paragraph (i) of subsection (2), or that such damage is occurring, and irrespective of whether or not the risk of such damage arises in circumstances to which paragraph (ii) of that subsection also relates, and
(b) in the circumstances, in order to protect the dwelling it is not practical or expedient to have to wait to apply to the District Court for a warrant under subsection (5), the authority shall, before entering a dwelling under this section, apply under subsection (5) to a judge of the District Court for a warrant to enter the dwelling.
(5) (a) A judge of the District Court may issue a warrant under this subsection in respect of a dwelling if satisfied, by information on oath of an officer or employee of the housing authority that—
(i) there are reasonable grounds for believing that the circumstances set out in subsection (2) apply to the dwelling, and
(ii) it is necessary for the purposes set out in subsection (3) to enter the dwelling.
(b) A warrant under this subsection shall operate to authorise the person named in the warrant, accompanied by such other persons as the named person thinks necessary, to enter (if need be by force), at any time or times within one month from the date of the issue of the warrant, on production if so required of the warrant, the dwelling named in the warrant for the purposes set out in subsection (3).
(6) An officer or employee of the local authority concerned shall not enter a dwelling for the purposes of this section except—
(a) with the consent of the tenant,
(b) in accordance with a warrant issued under subsection (5), or
(c) in circumstances to which paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (4) apply, with the written authorisation, in respect of the dwelling, of—
(i) the chief executive of the local authority concerned, or
(ii) an officer or employee of the local authority authorised in writing by that chief executive to give such written consent,
which authorisation may be expressed to enable a named officer or employee to be accompanied by such other persons as the officer or employee thinks necessary, and to enter (if need be by force) the dwelling for the purposes of taking such measures as are considered appropriate in the circumstances.
(7) Where a housing authority has taken under this section all reasonable steps in the circumstances to make a dwelling secure from vandalism, it shall not by reason of taking such steps be liable for any damage subsequently caused to the dwelling or its contents by vandalism.
(8) This section is without prejudice to the right of a housing authority to exercise any other power it has in relation to a dwelling.