A four-bedroom house abandoned since the mid-1990s has been commandeered by Croydon Council as part of its clampdown on empty properties.
The council officially took possession of the £400,000 detached house in Mitchley Avenue in Purley last week after going through the compulsory purchase process.
The council took this lengthy last-resort action after years of unsuccessfully trying to work with the owner to do up the property and ensure it was lived in.
Croydon will now auction the house to a suitable buyer who must then refurbish it and let it to new tenants within an agreed timescale. The council will use the auction price to cover the enforcement cost.
The move is part of the council’s drive to bring at least 670 privately-owned empty homes across the borough back into use by encouraging owners to do them up or face enforcement action. In January alone members of the public reported 16 extra empty properties to the council.
With around 5,000 people on the borough’s housing waiting list, which does not include those in emergency accommodation, the initiative aims to tackle both a shortage of privately-rented family properties and the environmental impact of empty homes.
Abandoned properties can attract piles of fly-tipped waste, vermin and break-ins, and have a detrimental effect on those living close by. The initiative is designed to fit with the council’s Don’t Mess With Croydon – Take Pride environmental campaign.
“Every empty property in Croydon means one less family has a home; that’s why this work is so important.
“We will not tolerate empty properties that affect our communities – this house has been empty for over 20 years and it’s high time someone lived in it. We tried for years to get the owner to do it up, but were left with no choice but to buy it ourselves.
“Our officers are now targeting other empty properties for similar action as we work to help hundreds more Croydon residents into a home of their own.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and regeneration
The council estimates that the number of empty flats or houses could be higher than the official 678, and is encouraging residents to report empty properties via the My Croydon app, which is quick and free to download from the Google Play store for Android smartphones or Apple iTunes store for iPhones. You can also report empty homes online at www.croydon.gov.uk or on the dedicated hotline: 020 8760 5470.