Like many authorities, here at Bradford we are looking at what information we hold in view of GDPR.
We have always resisted deleting records for long term empty properties from our live property database ( Civica APP) as we use this as evidence in the case for a CPO. The information we hold is details of the owner, their address and telephone numbers. We also have details of anyone who has ever contacted us about the property, to express concern or to offer to buy. We call these Service Requests. We always include details of the number of Service Requests received about a property and the issues in our Statement of Reasons for compulsory purchase action under Section 17 of the Housing Act 1985. We have always believed that demonstrating the number of complaints received about a proeprty strengthens the case for compulsory purchase.
We have considered anonymysing the data on our computer system after a period of time, so we will have data that shows someone has contacted us about the house and what the issue was, but would not have their name or address. However, anything written in the action dairy for this Service Request could include telephone numbers, names etc.
Having looked at the Government Guidance on the compulsory purchase of empty properties ( Guidance on Compulsory purchase process and the Crichel Down rules 2018), it is unclear how important it is to show the issues the property is causing in the neighbourhood. It states:
Compulsory purchase of empty properties may be justified as a last resort in situations
where there appears to be no other prospect of a suitable property being brought back into residential use.
Authorities will first wish to encourage the owner to restore the property to
full occupation. However, cases may arise where the owner cannot be traced and therefore use of compulsory purchase powers may be the only way forward.
When considering whether to confirm such an order the Secretary of State will normally wish to know:
• how long the property has been vacant
• what steps the authority has taken to encourage the owner to bring it into
acceptable use and the outcome; and
• what works have been carried out by the owner towards its reuse for housing
As you see, there is no mention of the problems a property may be causing in the area. We are keen to know what others are planning to do with data they hold and also what weight do you feel the government office actually attach to issues such as blight, crime and anti-social behaviour when deciding whether to confirm a CPO?
Empty Homes and Loans Team. Bradford Council.