Council Takes Action On Empty Homes

Family-sized homes left empty and uninhabitable

Councillors have run out of patience with two brothers who’ve allowed two family sized homes in Battersea to remain empty and uninhabitable for many years.

The town hall has given the brothers repeated opportunities to repair the homes and bring them back into use - either by selling them or renting them out - but they have failed to complete the necessary works despite agreeing to numerous repair timetables.

The two homes are in Shelgate Road. One - a five bedroom property - has lain empty since 1998, while the second, a four bedroom house, has been unoccupied since 1993.

Neither has a hot water supply or central heating and there are no bathing or cooking facilities.

It is estimated that the two properties each require spending of at least £50,000 to bring them up to a reasonable standard. The owners and their immediate family own at least six properties including another one in Shelgate Road.

Councillors have now authorised compulsory purchase (CPO) action on both properties.

A report detailing the recent history of both properties outlined how the owners had failed to meet deadlines for repair work to be carried out and had consistently argued that the homes were being lived in - despite the lack of basic amenities.

Wandsworth's long standing policy on empty homes is to offer their owners advice, assistance and grants to help bring them back into use. If this fails enforcement action, including the use of CPO power,s can also be considered.

The council will now make offers to purchase these two homes by agreement. If that does not succeed then the formal process of compulsory purchase will commence.

If the purchases are agreed, the owners will receive the market values of each property and the freeholds of both will then be sold on the open market along with a covenant requiring the new owners to immediately renovate the houses and either move in themselves, let them out or sell them within a reasonable timescale.

Housing spokesman Cllr Paul Ellis said: "It is a shame that we have to exercise these powers, and we do not do so lightly, but in the midst of a serious housing shortage across London, these two homes have stood empty for long enough.

"We have been extremely patient and given the owners every possible chance to act, but unfortunately they have not done so, and as a result there are two large family-sized houses in this street that are totally uninhabitable.

"We cannot stand idly by while these properties blight the area. We will now work swiftly to ensure these homes are brought back into use."

February 11, 2013