Taking the council to court?

Fannishfun

New Member
Messages
2
We bought a house near Listowel, Co. Kerry, in 2008. It had been built in 2004.

In 2019, we found out that the septic system never complied with EPA standards, which should have prevented the council from ever issuing planning permission. Yet they did.

We have been issued a council order to remedy the septic system at a cost of, wait for it, €20,000.

We don’t have that kind of money, and frankly feel that the council bears a large part of the responsibility for the cost since they clearly didn’t do their planning duty.

My question is: can we sue for damages, and what kind of solicitor do we need for this? Thanks for any advice!
 

Johnno75

Registered User
Messages
499
We bought a house near Listowel, Co. Kerry, in 2008. It had been built in 2004.

In 2019, we found out that the septic system never complied with EPA standards, which should have prevented the council from ever issuing planning permission. Yet they did.

We have been issued a council order to remedy the septic system at a cost of, wait for it, €20,000.

We don’t have that kind of money, and frankly feel that the council bears a large part of the responsibility for the cost since they clearly didn’t do their planning duty.

My question is: can we sue for damages, and what kind of solicitor do we need for this? Thanks for any advice!
It’s usually the purchaser to establish for themselves that all regulations are complied with before they buy the house (via an Engineer’s Report”).

If you could sue anyone, it would be the original vendor, whose warranties you probably relied on when buying the house that all regulations were complied with.

Sounds to me like you’re too late to sue, owing to the Statute of Limitations which give you six years within which to sue the vendor.

The Council will not be liable, as it is their job to enforce the regulations. They, as far as I can see, have committed no wrong so cannot be held liable. When issuing planning permission, it was up to the builder to ensure that the build was in compliance with the planning and there ought to have been a Cert of Compliance issued in favour of the original owner.
 

Sue Ellen

Moderator.
Messages
8,509
It’s usually the purchaser to establish for themselves that all regulations are complied with before they buy the house (via an Engineer’s Report”).

@Johnno75

Can the Engineer not be held responsible and therefore his insurance? Surely the purchaser in employing an Engineer as you said above complies by relying on Engineer's Report.
 

Johnno75

Registered User
Messages
499
@Johnno75

Can the Engineer not be held responsible and therefore his insurance? Surely the purchaser in employing an Engineer as you said above complies by relying on Engineer's Report.
Perhaps, but the timing is very late. Statute of Limitations: Six years from the date of the breach. Worth a letter to the Engineer if the OP hired one to do a survey.
 

jpd

Registered User
Messages
2,935
The OP never mentioned an engineer's report - I suspect that they did not look/pay for one
 

Leo

Moderator
Messages
13,743
If you could sue anyone, it would be the original vendor, whose warranties you probably relied on when buying the house that all regulations were complied with.
Caveat emptor applies to property purchases. Unless the OP got a written guarantee from the vendor that all was in order, then there is no case.
 

Leo

Moderator
Messages
13,743
In 2019, we found out that the septic system never complied with EPA standards, which should have prevented the council from ever issuing planning permission. Yet they did.
Do you mean the proposed planning that was granted allowed for a system that didn't meet EPA standards as they stood in 2004? What is the compliance issue?

Have you inspected the planning files and all correspondence? Prior to purchase, what inspection did you arrange to ensure that the property was fully compliant with the permission granted and that services including the septic system were compliant and functional? I presume you confirmed that the septic system was registered.

We don’t have that kind of money, and frankly feel that the council bears a large part of the responsibility for the cost since they clearly didn’t do their planning duty.

The council don't sign off on developments as compliant, engineers hired by those building do. I can't see the council having any case to answer here.
 

Monbretia

Registered User
Messages
2,177
Even if there is an engineers report they are usually filled with 'cya' phrases such as stuff covered up wasn't checked etc so unlikely that a septic tank could have been fully checked.

How is it costing 20k though to fix? Is that one of the new fancy polishing systems or something? I know a family member got quote of 15k for a 'fix' of some sort involving these but ended up with less than couple of grand cost and a man with a digger however the council were not involved though!
 

noproblem

Registered User
Messages
2,987
When you were buying the house what sort of checking did you do on the septic tank. If I was buying a house with a septic tank system it's one of the main concerns I'd have.
 

Fannishfun

New Member
Messages
2
Thanks so much, guys. We did get an engineer's report back when we bought the house. I'll have to have another look at it. But you're right--we're probably too late. Course we weren't aware of any issues until we received the EPA letter, telling us we were in breach. Ugh.

Also, the initial quote to fix the system was at 7k late 2019, but then Corona happened and we couldn't get the council to sign off on the new engineer's report until 2021. By then, new EU rules had come in. That's why we're suddenly at 20k because the rules got tightened on sceptic systems. So it's been a huge mess from beginning to end.

I still appreciate your take on it. We'll find a way, and at least we have a roof over our heads. More than some people can say...
 

PebbleBeach2020

Registered User
Messages
444
It'll take the council years to do anything or enforce anything. If you really cannot afford 20k then you can plead this in court if the council decide to take you there. I don't think you can take the council to court, unless you want to waste your money. If something needs fixing and you do not have the money to fix it, then what's the next step??? They won't throw you in jail I suspect!
 
Top