Council to tackle worst grot spots

THE worst 20 empty properties in Hartlepool will be targeted for action as part of a scheme aimed at tidying up our streets.

Hartlepool Borough Council has created a strategy to pin-point empty properties in town that have lain empty for up to five years.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond has targeted empty and derelict properties as an area for action for several years and the Hartlepool Mail launched our Spot the Grots campaign in a bid to help highlight areas that need sorting out.

Mayor Drummond, who is cabinet member responsible for community safety and housing, is set to discuss the latest strategy at a meeting this week.

A report to be discussed at the meeting states: “A key action within the action plan is to bring 10 per cent of empty properties back into use and to identify properties suitable for enforcement action.

“In order to demonstrate this ongoing work a table of the top 20 empty properties has been developed and this will monitor progress and assist in implementing the most appropriate form of enforcement action.

“Each individual case is assessed on its merits appropriate informal action taken followed by enforcement action.”

If an agreement cannot be made on the future of a building then the council has a range of options to get it sorted out including:

l Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) where the council can apply to a residential property tribunal to take over a property and to repair, let and manage it on behalf of the landlord for up to seven years, with costs recouped from the rental income.;

l Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) which removes ownership from the current owner to the council.

This shifts responsibility from the owner to the council for bringing the property back into use and requires public resources for legal fees and acquisition;

l Enforced sale, which allows the council to force the sale of a property subject to a local land charge following works in default action by the council.

The sale allows the council to recover debt owed by the owner and also costs incurred as a result of the enforced sale.

This tool may indirectly prompt the new owner to return the property to use;

l Council tax enforced sale, when a separate procedure is followed where the debts are unpaid council tax.

The meeting will be held at the Civic Centre in Victoria Road on Friday at 10am.

l Mail view: Page 8