Aug 132013
 

Empty and neglected homes across the are being brought back into use as Council steps up action against owners and landlords.

The council is one of the foremost councils across England in tackling this issue which faces all local authorities.

Currently there are 5,710 empty homes, which is 3.8 per cent of all East Riding dwellings. Of these, 1,250 are classed as being long term empty, meaning they have been empty for six months or more. This is a significant decrease compared with 2,000 long term empty properties in October 2011.

Councillor Symon Fraser, portfolio holder for environment, and planning, said: “Three years ago a plan of action was put in place to tackle the unacceptable number of properties left empty and causing a nuisance. These were properties that would make some family a good home.

“Bringing long term empty properties back into use can be a lengthy process, particularly if legal action is needed. But over the last couple of years we have been seeing a huge improvement as the number has been falling.

He said: “There are an endless number of reasons why properties should not be left empty and rotting: they attract crime such as vandalism, arson, fly tipping and vermin. Their deteriorating state can also damage adjoining properties.

“It also uses council taxpayers’ money to make these properties secure when the owner is not known.”

An example of the cost to the council is that of a house in Lansdowne Road, which was empty for 14 years. The total cost to the council over a 12 month period was £8,000. This does not reflect the reduced value of neighbouring properties or police costs for dealing with anti social behaviour or fire service costs in dealing with incidents.

Nigel Leighton, director of environment and neighbourhood services, said; “We start every process by trying to work in partnership with owners of empty properties. We have found that in many cases encouragement and persuasion to undertake repairs has worked very well.

“Initially, a letter is sent or a visit is made to the owner and this generally has the desired effect in that the property is brought into use.

“Where things become more difficult, for example when persuasion and negotiation fail and an owner doesn’t carry out remedial work then there are several paths we can take, but giving up isn’t one of them.”

Options include:

Voluntary acquisition is when the council and the owner of an empty property reach an agreement for the council to buy it at an agreed price. In the past three years the council has voluntary acquired six properties and put them back in use. (Brandesburton 1, Bridlington 1, Hessle 1, 2 and Willerby 1)

Empty dwelling management orders (EDMO) are an interim measure which allows the council to take possession of a property and to get it occupied. While this is an action open to councils, it is not one that this council has yet used.

Compulsory purchase orders are carried out only with approval from the Secretary of State responsible for communities and local . This is a lengthy process taking up to a year. The council has compulsory purchased four properties in the last three years ( 1, Bridlington 1, Hessle 1 and 1).

Mr Leighton said: “The reasons why properties are left empty and to deteriorate are as varied as the properties themselves. They include homes left empty after the death of the occupant or a property which has been willed to someone who is reluctant to accept it.

“There are also situations where the owner has allowed the house to become run down and can no longer afford to bring it back into order. Other properties are just abandoned or have been bought as an and just left empty.”

In 2012 the council published its Empty Homes Strategy, outlining its plans to reduce the number of empty properties. This includes imposing a premium 150 per cent of the council tax on a property which has been empty for two years and more.

The council has also been awarded over £400,000 of grant funding as part of the Government’s Empty Homes Programme to bring 30 empty properties back into use. The council has also set aside capital funding from its own budgets to pay to acquire properties, the money being recovered when the properties are sold.

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Nov 222011
 
Beverley Property Guide

From Monday, 5 to Friday, 7 December, it is the Empty Homes Agency’s ‘National Week of Action on Empty Homes’ which aims to identify and raise awareness of the problems with empty homes.

of Yorkshire Council has an empty homes team which is pro-active in tackling the problem of empty homes in the area and will be active on the streets of during the week of action.

It is vital that empty homes are brought back into use and the empty homes team will work with owners to achieve this. Most homes are brought back into use by informal negotiations with the owner, however, should this fail the home may ultimately be subject to a ().

Councillor Symon Fraser, cabinet portfolio holder for environment, and planning, said: “Empty homes blight communities and are a wasted resource which could otherwise be occupied. They are also known to attract anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and vandalism.

“The empty homes team is focused on addressing this problem and will act appropriately to encourage the owners of empty homes in the Withernsea area to bring them back into habitable use.”

For further details or to report an empty home, call (01482) 396301 (selecting option 2) or email private.sector.housing@eastriding.gov.uk

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Two more derelict houses could be turned into homes again after they were identified as eye-sores by of Yorkshire Council.

The council’s team is working towards compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for the properties which will then be sold on to developers who agree to bring them up to a decent standard.

A notice has already been posted at a property in Lansdowne Road, , and the council is also preparing to take action at a property in which has drawn complaints from neighbours.

Councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for cultural services, housing and public protection at the council, said: “Putting these properties back into use will not only provide homes for people, it will also help to keep the East Riding looking its best.

“The deterioration of an empty property can have a noticeable affect on the area. We can understand how people living near these properties feel, as they do not want to be affected by the possibility of fly tipping, anti-social behaviour or other problems empty homes can attract.

“Ideally we would always choose to work with the owners of an empty building to make sure it is put to good use, but where this is not possible we can choose to use a to resolve the situation.”

The latest CPOs follow recent success in Seaton Road, Hessle, where a derelict three bedroom mid-terraced property was bought by the council. After the council completed the CPO process The Lands Tribunal set a price of £65,000. The house was then sold on the market for £68,000.

Terms of the sale included a time scale for the new owner to complete the refurbishment work to the house, which will ensure that the property is renovated and re-occupied.

The result will be beneficial to the whole of the Seaton Road area and demonstrates that the council is dedicated to improving residents’ quality of life.

Three empty properties in will also be put back into use after the council negotiated to buy them from their owners, avoiding the CPO process.

Most empty properties are brought back into use by informal negotiation with the owner. Should that fail compulsory purchase under The Housing Act (1985) is the last resort to restore a home to use.

Anyone concerned about an empty property should contact Roger Curry, empty property officer, on (01482) 396016.

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A project to breathe new life into an area of looks set to move to the next stage as a has been confirmed.

Regeneration proposals which are a key part of Council’s Advance Goole programme require the purchase of two properties in Richard Cooper Street. The council had tried to agree the sale of these properties, but this was not possible.

The secretary of state for communities and local , Eric Pickles MP, has now confirmed the compulsory purchase order () for these properties.

All other properties in Richard Cooper Street and nearby Phoenix Street are already owned by the council.

Councillor Stephen Parnaby, OBE, leader of of Yorkshire Council, said: “We are delighted to have been given the Government’s backing. Having listened to people living and working in Goole we know that they want answers about what the future holds for their town, and in many cases to see the project develop. This is a view that we share.”

The Government’s decision follows a public inquiry which heard from the council, the landlords who own the two properties which are the subject of the CPO, and other interested parties.

The public inquiry is estimated to have cost the council in excess of £15,000 in professional fees alone and further delayed its £9.79 million plans to redevelop the area.

Cllr Parnaby said: “To avoid delay, disruption and cost the council would far rather have agreed to buy these properties through negotiation, rather than facing this lengthy legal process. All of the other properties in the two streets were purchased by agreement and we are grateful to those property owners who were happy to work with us.”

Proposals include a mix of homes and open space for residents to enjoy and any proposed lay-out of the site would minimise the potential for crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

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