Council Empty Property Strategy

by Readers Question

9:57 AM, 9th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Council Empty Property Strategy

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Council Empty Property Strategy

I recently wrote to my local council (Herefordshire) requesting a list of the empty properties listed on their books. Council Empty Property Strategy

I had read the Council Strategy document regarding the need to bring empty/unused and deteriorating properties back in to use as a useful housing resource.

Within the document there are plenty of ways of reporting such properties but no suggestion of how to find them.

I have not had a reply so far which does not surprise me.

Does anyone else know of a way to obtain a list of properties that may be renovated to provide useful accommodation?

Thanks

Ade Hyett



Comments

Paul Franklin

12:22 PM, 9th October 2014
About 4 years ago

An FOI request could probably get you the number of empty properties in certain areas but as for the details on addresses etc I would have thought this would be witheld under data protection laws.

I don't think the owners of properties that were left empty would be too pleased if Council's were giving that info out. Likewise if they did give out this info, groups of squatters would have a field day with it.

Brian Q Love

14:02 PM, 9th October 2014
About 4 years ago

A good place to start might be

https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/advice-and-benefits/council-tax-business-rates-and-benefits/council-tax/is-my-property-exempt-from-council-tax

Which says.

With effect from 1 April 2013 the exemption classes for unoccupied unfurnished properties (class C) and properties requiring major repair work to render habitable (class A) have been removed and replaced by discounts. The Government has given local authorities discretion to determine the levels of discount. Further information is included in the discounts section above.

To apply for an exemption, write to the Council Tax Section, Income and Awards, PO Box 224, HerefordHR1 2XW, email us at counciltax@herefordshire.gov.uk or download, complete and return the relevant application form.

It is possible they may assist you without an FOI - but no quarantees.

Good luck,

Brian Q Love
Love Architecture Ltd
Chartered Architects & Project Managers

Jay James

21:07 PM, 11th October 2014
About 4 years ago

It seems rather unfair that property details may be passed on for such a reason. Whatever the reason an owner leaves a property unsused , it is their business. Not the council's nor a private person / organisation. Such a process leaves owner's open to harassment (or perhaps just pain in the ****) by anonymous reporting.

Colin Dartnell

15:50 PM, 12th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Hello Ade

You don't say in what capacity you ask the question, are you a landlord looking to purchase unused properties, a housing association looking to renovate and let properties for a landlord, or a homeless charity wanting to take on the job. In any event I would be very upset if details of an empty property I may own were given out by a council for whatever reason.

Colin McNulty

8:47 AM, 13th October 2014
About 4 years ago

It's less likely now that the council will release this information. Mine used to, but now won't.
See here for the latest re-hearing by the Information Tribunal of the key Camden case:

http://www.ehnetwork.org.uk/newsitem/camden-foi-case-door-finally-closing-release-empty-property-lists

The short version of this complicated case is: Camden council chose not to release an empty property list to a squatter campaigner who requested it under the Freedom of Information Act.

This was appealed but the decision upheld by the information Commissioner. It was appealed again and overturned by the Information Tribunal, who ordered the list disclosed.

Camden appealed again and an Upper Tribunal ordered the previous appeal to be re-heard by another Information Tribunal, who last year (2013) finally decided the opposite of the previous Information Tribunal and upheld Camden’s decision not to disclose the empty property list.

The key point is that the reason for the exception from the Freedom of Information request was due to the likely increase in crime; it was a squatter activist requesting the information after all!

Now I've been arguing with my council that the exact opposite is true, that by releasing the list to a carefully selected group of community partners, e.g. members of the council's own Accredited Landlord Scheme, that this is more likely to reduce crime and vandalism, is it will increase the speed at which these properties are brought back into use.

Sadly they're not budging.

Adrian Hyett

9:34 AM, 13th October 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Colin McNulty" at "13/10/2014 - 08:47":

Thank-you for all the comments, I have since had a reply from the council citing the DATA protection act and refusing to supply the info!

Many thanks


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