Hefty fine for homeowner who ignored council warning

The owner of an empty Bexhill house has been ordered to pay more than £2,000 in fines and costs for failing to make repairs to his property.

Rother District Council served a Community Protection Notice (CPN) on Philip Palmer last September after the state of the garden fence began to impact on neighbours of the Windsor Road property.

But Mr Palmer, of Chapel Walk, Bexhill, failed to act leading to the district council’s first prosecution for a breach of a CPN at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on July 6.

The Magistrate heard how the CPN for the state of the garden fence was the third Mr Palmer had been served by the authority – the first two were in response to the condition of exterior walls and the overgrown front, side and rear gardens.

Cllr Terry Byrne, Rother District Council’s portfolio holder for housing and homes, said: “This is a good result for RDC and its officers, who have made repeated attempts to resolve this issue before resorting to court action. However, the condition of this property in Windsor Road has been a blight on the neighbourhood and had a really adverse effect on other residents.

“I hope that this ruling will serve as a warning to other property owners that we will not allow empty homes to fall into a state of disrepair and cause problems for local residents and communities.

“Rather than taking court action our officers would always prefer to work with owners of empty properties such that they can be brought back into use and we can create conditions for a thriving, well maintained private rented sector that works for everyone. “

Mr Palmer was found guilty of breaching the conditions of the CPN in his absence, and Magistrates imposed a £1,500 fine, £150 victim surcharge and costs of £600 to be paid within 28 days.

As well as addressing the issue of properties that fall into a state of disrepair, Rother District Council is committed to preventing issues by bringing empty properties back into use.

From April this year, owners of homes that have stood empty and unfurnished for more than two years will be charged 100 per cent premium on top of their council tax.

From 2021 those with homes which have stood empty for more than 5 years will have to pay a 200 per cent premium and from 2022, a 300 per cent premium will be charged for properties which have stood empty for more than ten years.

The authority offers financial incentives to owners of empty, unfurnished homes who let their properties to people working with the authority’s housing team. Anyone interested in letting or selling their long-term empty property can contact tenantfinder@rother.gov.uk

Empty properties can be reported online at www.rother.gov.uk/environmental-health/private-rented-housing/empty-properties/

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Published: 17th July 2020