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Appendix 2 - Empty homes enforcement procedure

Part of the empty homes policy for Torbay.

1. Initial contact

Once a property has been identified by the ‘empty property priority assessment form’ an officer will contact the owner to discuss what can be done to bring the property back into use. They will let the owner know the importance of bringing empty homes back into use, outlining what support they can expect from the Council, as well as any consequences of not taking action.

Where an empty property presents a serious or imminent risk to health and safety or is causing a

statutory nuisance, appropriate enforcement action will be considered, depending on the circumstances of each case.

2. Commencement of works

Where an owner has commenced refurbishment works, a reasonable timescale will be given for these works to be completed. Regard will be given to the works being carried out, but where works are minor then, where practicable, a 4 month maximum would be deemed reasonable.

Where works have commenced, but there is no clear progression to completion, or reasons for delays are unreasonable, it will be necessary to explore the legal options available and regard will be made to the Council’s Enforcement Policies.

3. Enforcement action

Following an inspection of the property, if the owner has made no attempt to carry out any works, or has not indicated a reasonable timescale when the works will be completed, or there is no clear progression to completion, the Council will determine the most appropriate enforcement action to take, as detailed in Section 4.5, including the following actions:

  1. Securing the property where access can be easily gained
  2. Abatement of a nuisance – Notice to abate a statutory nuisance affecting, or impacting a neighbouring property, such as an accumulation, or deposit that is prejudicial to health, or a nuisance, such as water ingress etc
  3. Eradicating the causes of vermin where there is evidence
  4. Making the property safe where there is an imminent risk to health
  5. Addressing unsightly external appearance, as per legislation
  6. Enforced payment of Council Tax arrears
  7. Enforced sale
  8. Empty Dwelling Management Order

This will be in consultation with other departments within the Council to make sure that the most appropriate enforcement action is taken and that we can retrieve costs under the appropriate legislation

Timescale: In accordance with legal requirements

4. Compulsory purchase

Where no, or inadequate action is taken by the owner to bring a long-term empty property into beneficial use, or where ownership is unknown, the Council will consider the use of compulsory purchase powers to acquire the property. Compulsory purchase may be considered even when other, or no enforcement action is taken, as the overriding aim is to ensure that an empty property is brought back into use and compulsory purchase may be necessary to achieve this. However, protracted legal confrontation can be expensive for both parties.

Appendix 3 - Properties exempt from paying Council Tax