CPO establishing whether a property is empty

Hi all

I have noticed that since the increase of council tax for long term empties a number of owners are now changing the property status to single occupancy.  I have a couple of properties in particular that I am proposing to compulsory purchase, however I am concerned that the 'single occupancy' status on council tax may hinder the CPO in the event of an appeal.  I have made numerous visits to both properties and have spoken to the neighbours who have confirmed that the properties are still empty. 

My question is, has anybody been able to obtain information from utility suppliers to prove that no electricity, gas, water etc. is being used within the property, in order to evidence that the property is empty, and if so how have you been able to obtain such information.  I have access to NAFN, but my knowledge of how to use it is minimal.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thanks

Sadie

East Riding of Yorkshire Council

 

Forums: 
CPOs

Hi Sadie,

I have requested our Fraud department and or Ctax to do an Experian search. They are usually keen to do it in Preston as, should the owner be falsely claiming it is occupied,when infact it is empty, this can be regarded as intentional Fraud - thererby being a potential criminal offence -  justiying the searches.  I recently uncovered a £7k fraud this way.. Empty homes working inconjunction with Fraud and Ctax to get a result.

Hope this helps.

Sadie

A survey of the interior of the property may help to determine whether or not it is occupied.

Section 172 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 provides a right of entry for the purpose of carrying out a survey in connection with the acquisition of property.

Regards

  

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Thank you Terry, I am currently waiting for an appointment to obtain a warrant from our magistrates.  I am just conscious that I may receive an appeal so therefore want as much evidence as possible.

Kind regards

Sadie

Sadie Cook

Technical Officer

Sadie

If you have a contractor with you when you are carrying out your condition survey, you may wish to isolate the mains water, the gas and the electricity for health and safety reasons and take meter readings.

If you then return a couple of months later to carry out a survey for valuation you could see if any of the services have been put back on and take further meter readings to see if they have been used.  Just a thought.

Regards

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Hello Terry, 

I havent heard of isolating the utilities before, if one was to do this, what powers would the Authority have to exercise this? ( ERA?)  If it would be on the risks to health and safety, would there not need to be an occupier in residence ( who is exposed?) and therefore if there is an occupier it isn't unoccupied? 

I think I'm missing something here, so if you could point me in the direction of the answer I would be most appreciative.

Thanks

Lyndsey 

 

 

 

Lyndsey

There are no specific powers I would use, you are in the proeprty anyway.  If a property is left empty with mains water left on there is always chance of a burst or leak, which could result in substantial damage to the property and also adjacent properties, if terraced.  Locating and switching off the water at the main stop tap inside the property may prevent this.  If the electricity is left on, there is always risk of electrical shortage and fire, particularly if there is vermin in the premises that can chew through the wires.  Flicking the switches to the off position on the fuse board reduces the risk of this occurring.  Similarly, turning the gas off at the main off tap, normally around the gas meter area, reduces the risk of a gas leak if any of the internal pipes are damaged.

Not only are you reducing the risk of these problems occuring, you are also protecting the owners asset by reducing the liekihood of damage to the property .

Regards

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Many thanks for your advice Stephen, I have contacted our fraud department who appear to be very keen to assist.

Kind regards

Sadie

Sadie Cook

Technical Officer