The following guidance is for applicants, designers and builders who are involved with building projects in the borough and who have received a Contravention Notice.
When works on site are undertaken those works are evaluated against the Building Regulations. Article 18 of The Building Regulations Order (NI) 1979 (as amended) states that where works contravene any of the Building Regulations a council may serve a notice on the owner requiring the owner to pull down or remove the work or carry out such work that would make it comply.
Our first notification about observed contraventions of the Building Regulations is usually through a letter following a site inspection (a letter listing observed contraventions). This letter should be regarded as a warning and should be taken seriously. It is normally used to allow a reasonable time for works to be carried out to remove the contravention. However, there may be occasions that due to the severity of the contravention, this letter may not be sent and a Contravention Notice sent in the first instance.
If the contravention is not resolved a Contravention Notice will be served on the owner. As the Contravention Notice is enforced through the magistrate’s court we consider this formal notification a last resort.
Article 18 of the Building Regulations Order (N.I.) 1979 (as amended) also permits us to serve a Contravention Notice on other persons including the occupier; the builder; the person causing the work to be done; or any other person appearing to have control over the work.
If after 28 days following the serving of the notice the person fails to comply with the notice, we have the right to carry out works that remove the contravention and recover from that person reasonable costs incurred by the council. Alternatively we can action the Contravention Notice through court.
We can at any time withdraw the Contravention Notice without prejudice to serve another. If the council withdraws a notice it will give notification of the withdrawal to the person on whom the Contravention Notice was served.
Obtaining a report
Upon receiving a Contravention Notice the person served with the notice can notify us of their intention to submit a written report from a suitably qualified person concerning work to which the Contravention Notice relates.
- we must be notified in writing of the intention to submit a written report within 28 days of the notice being served
- we must receive the written report within 56 days of the contravention notice having been served
- we must notify the responsible person in writing that as a result of its consideration of the report it intends to either: –
- withdraw the Contravention Notice (we may pay reasonable expenses incurred as a result of having served the notice including, in particular, the expense incurred in obtaining the report); or
- proceed with the Contravention Notice
Upon receipt of a Contravention Notice you have 28 days within which to lodge a written appeal to the Department of Finance against our decision. Where a report has been obtained the 28 days period is extended to 70 days from serving of the notice
The written appeal must clearly indicate the grounds of the appeal and be sent to the address below with a copy to us.
Department of Finance
Building Standards Branch
Enterprise Shared Services
3-5a Frederick Street
Belfast BT1 2NR
Receipt of Appeal
Once we are notified of the appeal by the Department of Finance, we will forward a copy of the application details, including all documents given to us by you as part of your application, to them. At the same time we will make a written submission regarding the appeal to the Department. A copy of this submission will be sent to you.
Hearing of Appeal
The Department of Finance upon receipt of all documentation will decide upon the appeal.
The Department of Finance’s determination of the appeal will either –
- confirm the Contravention Notice; or
- direct the council to withdraw the Contravention Notice
In all cases the Department of Finance’s decision is final and conclusive, the only exception being on a point of law.
Question of Law
The Department of Finance and Personnel can refer any question of law relating to the appeal to the Court of Appeal. When it does this the Department of Finance will notify both you and us of its intention.
Where either party is aggrieved by the Department’s decision and the Department has not referred it to the Court of Appeal, then either party has the right to do so on a point of law.
The decision of the Court of Appeal on a point of law is final.
Our Letter accompanying the Contravention Notice provides the following information:
- that there is a right of appeal
- the period within which the appeal must be made
- the address to which the appeal should be sent
- that the appeal to the Department of Finance must set out the grounds of appeal
- that a copy of the appeal is to be sent to the council
- details of where guidance can be obtained
A Contravention Notice will give the offender a period of 28 days to rectify the works.
If the person on whom the Notice has been served disagrees with the Notice they will have two alternatives: –
Seek advice from the a suitably qualified person and if they tell us they intend to do this the 28 day period specified in the Contravention Notice is extended to 70 days. If they obtain a report from a suitably qualified person, such a report must be submitted to us within 56 days from the date on the Contravention Notice. As a result of consideration of the report we will either withdraw the Contravention Notice or confirm it.