Kildare County Council Household warning on developer levy liability

Council officials have said that development levies for an estate development that are not paid by developers could be paid by individual households.
HOUSE and property buyers should make sure they have no liability for development levies they think should be paid by developers.

HOUSE and property buyers should make sure they have no liability for development levies they think should be paid by developers.

The warning came at the February 25 meeting of Kildare County Council following questions raised by County Mayor Michael Nolan.

The Council heard from senior executive, Ann Rowan, that the “practice to date” has meant that Kildare County Council “has not taken action against individual owners on multi-unit developments, where development contributions are outstanding and individual properties have been sold by the developer”.

In recent times, householders in other counties have been shocked to get bills for levies which were supposed to be paid by the developer.

Mayor Nolan sought a report on planning permission given to developers where levies were not paid by the developers to the council.

He also asked officials to clarify its position on their proposal to protect any homeowners who may not be aware of this charge.

Ms. Rowan said they have taken a sample of 90 files over a three year period.

Nine of these files are multi-unit developments and only two of these have submitted commencement notices.

She said the Council has not encountered any difficulty with regard to Development Contributions on these two schemes.

Outlining the legal position, Ms. Rowan said: “S.39 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 states: Where permission to development land or for the retention of development is granted under this Part, then, except as may be otherwise provided by the permission, the grant of permission shall enure for the benefit of the land and of all persons for the time being interested therein.”
“In effect,” she said, “any conditions of planning (including requirement to pay development contributions) remain with the development/land and all persons for the time being interested therein”.

The report continued: “The onus is on the purchaser’s Solicitors to ensure that the development complies with all aspects of the planning permission granted, including the payment of development contributions, to ensure clear title and that all other matters are in order. In the event that this is not the case, it is a matter for the purchaser and/or his solicitor to pursue.” 
On the question of debt owing, Ms. Rowan concluded: “The development contributions form an essential part of funding the the council’s Capital Programme, and financial contribution conditions form part of the overall permission which must be complied with by the registered owner of the development.

“The debt remains due on the property/land until such time as payment is received by the local authority.”

Cllr. Senan Griffin said people should see something on their legal bill for a search.

Cllr. Padraig McEvoy said the Law Society should give clear guidelines. It would benefit everyone, he said.

Council Director of Services, John Lahart, said the Law Society did send out notices which put the onus on a seller solicitor to a purchaser’s solicitor.

But the old adage is buyer beware.

- Henry Buaress