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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Liverpool City Council have mistakenly identified me as the

Resolved Question:

Liverpool City Council have mistakenly identified me as the owner of a property which has been subject to action by it's environmental health department. The council has sent me letters threatening to take legal action if I don't pay outstanding invoices totaling nearly £13,000 which relate to work it carried out to remove fly tipped waste at the property.

This refers to the case:
http://www.liverpoolexpress.co.uk/eyesore-home-owners-fined/

The person named in this article is not me and I have never lived at Hawthorne Road.
I have had extensive correspondence with the council regarding this and believe that I have provided adequate evidence that I am not the owner. For example, I was 16 years of age when my namesake purchased the property and, therefore, could not have legally owned it. I can provide a full email trail of the correspondence between me and the environmental health officers.

An environmental health officer I spoke to said he was sending a 'questionnaire' which I didn't receive and I informed his office of this on 4th June. Yesterday, I received a letter saying that on 21st May, the council had sent me a notice under Section 330(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The letter stated that I hadn't responded within 21 days and unless I responded within 7 days it would consider initiating formal proceedings resulting in a potential fine of £1,000.

I emailed the sender of this letter and, in response, I received a copy of the notice and a further threat of action and a fine if I don’t return it by 4th July.

This whole episode has caused considerable distress to me, my wife and also my daughter who was telephoned directly by a tracing agency employed by the council. In addition, my business has also incurred cost in terms of my time and the disruption. I believe I have been more than patient and done all I can to help the council understand it has made a mistake.

What would be your advice?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply. !
Alex Watts : Have you made a formal complaint to the Chief Executive or Ombudsman yet please?
Customer:

Hi Alex,

Customer:

No, I haven't done this yet and I'm unclear as to what this will achieve. My main question is do the council have the right send this notice, demand that I complete it and threaten me with legal action if I don't? This is all with no evidence that I have any connection with the property in question.

Alex Watts : By writing to the chief executive office then you are asking for that department to review the matter.
Alex Watts : if you have never lived there and not named then you are not repsonsible.
Alex Watts : That office will investigate the matter.
Alex Watts : If they do and you are not happy with the outcome you can complain to the Ombudsman.
Alex Watts : They offer a free independent service and their website is www.lgo.org.uk
Alex Watts : Finally you can seek a judicial review which is where a high court examines the decision to see whether it is legal and reasonable.
Alex Watts : but this would be in the high court and could be expansive.
Alex Watts : So try the chief officer and ombudsman.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Customer:

So do I have to respond to this notice? The council say it is an offence not to and I could be subject to a fine of £1000. They have given me until 4th July.

Alex Watts : Yes you need to respond. Set out your position formally. You don't own it you have never lived there.
Alex Watts : Then if they try and take you to court, you can show the judge you responded setting out your position.
Alex Watts : Does that help?
Customer:

It helps in that I understand my position better. However it is infuriating that the burden appears to be on me to prove that I have no connection with this property. Surely the council; should need to have reasonable grounds to believe I own the property before issuing this notice, threatening me with further action and wasting more of my time. The ONLY thing linking me is that I have the same name as its target!

Alex Watts : Yes I agree which is why you should take the above steps.
Alex Watts : if this answers your question might I invite you to rate my answer.
Alex Watts : If the system won't let you please do say.
Alex Watts : If you need more help please click reply.
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