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No Action On 4,000 Empty Dwellings

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No action on 4,000 empty dwellings

ROCHDALE Council has failed to take over any empty houses left to rot by private landlords.

A Freedom of Information request by the Rochdale Observer has revealed that council bosses have not seized any vacant properties under the Housing Act since it was introduced in 2004.

In January, there were 4,113 empty dwellings, almost a quarter of which were owned by the local authority, and that figure is expected to soar as the number of homes being repossessed increases because of the recession.

Rochdale’s Labour prospective parliamentary candidate, Simon Danczuk, urged the council to take advantage of all the tools at its disposal to bring more homes back into use and stop the spread of ‘ghost estates’.

He said: "Empty homes blight neighbourhoods and are magnets for anti-social behaviour. They attract squatters, drug-dealers and fly-tippers.

"We really need to make much better use of Rochdale’s housing stock. Our council has the tools to do something about it, but is not using this legislation to provide much-needed accommodation for local people."

Empty dwelling management orders can be made where a property is unoccupied for more than six months.

If the owner cannot explain why the property should remain empty, councils can take over the management of the dwelling.

A council spokesman rejected claims that it was ignoring the issue and said enforcement tools were only used when efforts to work with the owner had failed.

During the last financial year, 164 properties were brought back into use with minimal use of these powers, according to the spokesman.

He added: "Nationally, there have only been a very small number of empty dwelling management orders used in the country since they were introduced.

"They require a complex plan for the delivery of the management of the property, which is very expensive to produce – one of the main reasons we haven’t used them in Rochdale.

"We have, however, been pursuing the more cost effective option of buying into the framework that Manchester City Council has developed.

"Our negotiations are taking time, because there are liability issues involved in sharing the framework. It is our hope that we will be able to buy them in for much less and have the orders available for use in Rochdale in the future."

There's some of that famous 'shortage' ca 2007 bull(sh1) rhetoric.

Soon to be much more.

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