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Absent landlords could lose their properties

Cornwall council has given notice to second home owners and landlords who are neglecting their properties that they will slap compulsory purchase orders on the homes if the owners don’t take action.

Disinterested owners

In a move that may well be imitated by councils across the country, Cornwall Council has identified 4000 homes that are not lived in and are being neglected by the owners. In some cases the houses have been let by absent landlords who have neglected to look for new tenants when the previous ones have left, and some second homes that are no longer used and have just been left to decay. In both cases the properties should have been covered by empty property insurance but it seems that the owners have lost all interest in the buildings.

Take up on first stage disappointing

With the housing shortage in Cornwall nearing crisis levels the council adapted an empty homes policy in 2010. The first stage of the policy involved the council tracing owners of empty properties and offering them incentives to renovate their homes, take out landlord insurance and provide rented accommodation for local families desperate to find a home. The policy worked to a certain extent as the council managed to get 131 properties brought back to life last year but that still leaves around 3,800 empty homes in a county with 19,000 on the housing list.

Council have public support

The initiative has the full backing of people in the county, especially those who live adjacent to the properties that have been left neglected and dilapidated. They say the houses attract anti-social elements and bring the tone of the neighbourhood down, which in turn of course devalues their own properties. The council have identified the properties they will target and homeowners will soon be getting notification of the council’s intentions.

Landlords will get the chance to buy

The compulsory purchase scheme will be funded by a £2 million government subsidy and may in fact give good professional landlords the opportunity to add to their portfolio. The council plan to buy the properties, renovate them and then sell them on again to buyers who will ensure families are ensconced in the homes immediately.

By Simon Dack