Updated Wednesday 12th October 2005
Council To Target 'Ghost Houses'
East Herts District Council are to address the problem of empty homes in the area.
Local authorities are to be given powers to takeover properties which have been empty for over six months and rent them out.
The introduction of Empty Dwelling Management Orders aims to help ease the housing shortage in England by bringing empty or derelict properties back into use.
The District has 650 homes that have been empty for more than six months and next week East Herts Council takes to the streets to publicise The Empty Homes National Week of Action, a campaign to highlight the social and environmental problems caused by empty homes.
The new orders will allow councils to tackle the problems caused by empty homes, including dilapidated and dangerous buildings, overgrown gardens, rubbish dumping and vandalism. The orders will allow the council to take over as the landlord of an empty house and then arrange for local people to become legal tenants.
The legislation doesn't come into effect until next April, but East Herts Council is hoping the new laws will encourage otherwise reticent owners to work with them now to bring their properties back into use, without resorting to the courts next year.
Bob Parker, Executive member for community development, said: "Although the council will have these new powers we would always prefer to work with owners to get homes back into use.
"There's lots of help that we can offer: advice on grants, information about how to rent or sell, incentives to get homes back in use and information for people who want to restore an empty house. We will only resort to a management order if a house has been empty for over six months and we have been unable to track down the owner. Or if the owners have refused to help."
The empty homes team will be in Bircherley Green, Hertford on Wednesday October 19, 10am - 2pm and at Bishop's Stortford Market on Thursday October 20, 10am - 2pm to give advice to anyone who owns or knows of an empty house in their neighbourhood.