Empty home owners in West Cheshire are learning that the council is serious about seeing empty properties brought back in to use following an increase in the use of Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) powers.
CPOs are available to the council under the Housing Act 1985 to purchase houses to provide much needed accommodation.
Following the appointment of a new CPO officer, the empty homes team have been able to significantly increase the number of properties considered for CPO action with 29 properties on the current action list.
Cabinet member for housing Cllr Angela Claydon said: “We are keen to make it clear to empty home owners that we are not afraid to use the legal powers available to us, including the use of compulsory purchases orders, which allow the council to take ownership of empty properties to ensure that they are re-occupied.
“Our empty homes team is available to provide advice and support to home owners but where an owner is refusing to engage with us then we won’t hesitate to use enforcement measures to bring the borough’s empty homes back into use.”
The use of the power is always a last resort and is only used where the owner is not taking genuine steps towards bringing the property back in to use.
Market value compensation is paid to the property owner following the successful confirmation of a CPO, allowing the council to then sell the property to a new owner that is committed to renovating it and bringing it back into use.
The number of cases is set to increase as more properties are identified for action.
A priority scoring system is used to ensure that the worst properties and those empty the longest are targeted.
With many owners choosing to co-operate with the council before the matter gets as far as a CPO, the empty homes team are seeing the number of empty properties brought back into use increasing year on year.
Last year, the team were able to bring 150 empty properties back into use through their intervention.
If you are an empty home owner or wish to complain about an empty property that is affecting you, Cheshire West and Chester Council is running regular empty home surgeries.
They are on the first Tuesday of the month, starting from October 3, 11am-1pm at Ellesmere Port Library and Winsford Library, where a member of the empty homes team will be on hand to offer advice and assistance.