Sharing information accross a County

Is there anyone else currently sharing information with other local authorities about empty home owners.

We are a District Council within a County and feel it would be useful to share information in some circumstances. We share an empty homes strategy which includes the ambition to do this.

Does anyone know if it would be possible? I have a few examples which I think it would be useful for me to have information from other authorities

  1. Where we are considering/engaged in Compulsory Purchase or enforced sale of a property, knowing if the property owner has other vacant properties in other areas and if there has been other enforcement action carried out
  2. Where I can’t find an owner of an empty property and suspect they may be living in a neighbouring authority – if they are able to send letters on or even share an address
  3. Where there is an owner of multiple empty properties close to our border, could we join forces to link our actions (would require some detailed sharing of information

Are there any examples where this is already being carried out? Could you share how this is being done?

Thanks

 

Helen Rhodes

Empty Homes Officer

Selby District Council

Forums: 
FOI, data protection etc

Hello Helen, 

Did you get an answer to your question above relating to sharing information? I have a simlar situation with a neighbouring local authority, it looks like we have an empty property owner with several emty properties accross two councils. Are we allowed to colaborate?

With thanks, 

Becky 

I usually quote Schedule 2, Part 1, Paragraph 2, Sub-paragraph 2(b) of the Data Protection Act 2018 when looking to obtain information from other organisations.

(2)Sub-paragraph (3) applies where—

(a)personal data is processed by a person (“Controller 1”) for any of the purposes mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(a) to (c), and

(b)another person (“Controller 2”) obtains the data from Controller 1 for the purpose of discharging statutory functions and processes it for the purpose of discharging statutory functions.

 

 

Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council

Hi,

If you were talking about sharing personal information I don't think you could. You couldn't use the Local Government Finance Act 2003 (s85), as you can do within your own billing authority, because it only covers information the billing authority has obtained, and only for the purposes of carrying out it's own empty property functions, not the functions of another authority.

You could look at using s29 of Data Protection Act to obtain information, as there is an exemption in cases where it necessary to prevent and detect crime, and recover taxation (both of which can apply to empty properties). I have obtained contact information from the DVLA and Passport Agency for this purpose on the grounds of recovery of taxation. Not used it for obtaining information from another billing authority but no reason why you can't if the circumstances apply. I have also just asked my CT contact how they obtain information from other billing authorities and they say they always use s29.

I know that you are probably after a solution that does not require formal requests and bureaucracy, and could be used where there is no tax debt/crime, but I don't think there is one. I don't think the existence of a regional strategy would be sufficient to get round the DPA sadly.

In terms of collaboration, in practice what help would it provide? If you were thinking of doing a CPO or EDMO you would need to make your own decision locally based on the circumstances of the case, and your own enforcement policy, etc. Information from a neighbouring authority could be interesting but it would not be essential to achieving what you wanted to do, and more information may actually side track you, rather than focussing on the circumstances as you know them to be in your locality.

Might be worth a quick call to Kent because if anyone is doing this, they will be.

Hope that helps in the absence of any other responses.

James
Housing Standards
City of York Council

Hi James,

Many thanks for your response, it's helpful. With regards to my situation, I had an enquiry form a neighbouring LA. I was unsure if I could share if a specific address here in Bristol was empty. It is all part of the Empty Property Officers attempt to trace an empty owner in their patch but they believe the contact address given by their empty property owner is also being kept empty here in Bristol and wanted to check if we had it recorded as such.  Thanks, Becky