Council uses “last resort” powers to tackle rotting house

An empty house which has been left to rot and is attracting crime will be bought by Sheffield Council.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 11:55 am
Updated Friday, 13th September 2019, 15:45 pm
Sheffield Council is compulsory purchasing 45 Marchwood Road because it is rotting and attracting anti social behaviour. Picture Scott Merrylees

Officers are using “last resort” powers to compulsory purchase 45 Marchwood Road at Stannington after years of trying to get the owner to refurbish it.

The house is damp, mouldy and cold and there have been complaints from neighbours about anti-social behaviour.

The council has powers to buy land or empty properties to provide housing where there is no other prospect of them being brought back into use. It will buy the house then auction it.

In a report, council officer Neil Dunk says: “Due to the lack of progress from the owner in carrying out refurbishment of the property, along with any meaningful proposals for bringing it back into occupation, the council believes that the property will remain in a state of serious disrepair and unoccupied without council intervention.”

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The three-bedroomed semi has been empty since at least March 2012 when officers first visited. They say it’s in a “very poor state of repair, both externally and internally.”

Since 2016 there have been five complaints about the condition of the property and anti-social behaviour.

The council has written to the owner on a number of occasions but the owner hasn’t refurbished it. An Improvement Notice was ignored and the council has twice offered to buy the property but had no response.

The report adds: “Long term empty properties commonly attract anti-social behaviour, increasing the fear of crime for neighbours.

“Typically, gardens are used to dump refuse, windows are smashed, doors are forced open and the property used for criminal activity, including drug taking. Once these activities commence, the condition of the property quickly deteriorates, further increasing the negative effect of the property on the neighbourhood.

“The property has experienced some of these problems. The council has received a number of complaints, including reports that the property has been broken into on two separate occasions.

“Another neighbour reported intruders had been climbing over her car in order to gain access to the property and this had made her feel anxious and intimidated.

“Although it is not illegal for owners to leave their property empty, the council chooses to work proactively in bringing problematic empty properties back into use.”

The council will need to pay compensation to the owner based on the open market value of the property and will also pay the surveyors and legal fees.