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Issue:- 10 April 2014

Owners prosecuted over vacant property

PROPERTY owners who allowed their empty houses to attract vermin and who failed to provide information to the City Council have been prosecuted.

Quirefast Ltd of Corporation Road St Helens was found guilty in their absence at Liverpool Magistrates Court of two offences of not supplying the Council with information required under the Town and Country Planning Act.

They were also found guilty of one offence under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act by failing to remove overgrown vegetation and rubbish from the front and rear garden of a house which was providing shelter for rats.

In July 2013, following a complaint, an officer from the City Council's Vacant Properties Team visited a vacant end terrace house in Lowell Street, Walton. Checks showed that the property was owned by Quirefast Ltd. A notice was served on them requiring them to provide details of their interest in the property and the purpose for which it was used. No response was received to that notice or to a second which was served.

In October 2013, again following a complaint, an inspection took place at a terrace house in St David's Road, Anfield, and it was found that it was in poor condition. The windows to the front and rear of the building were broken, there was graffiti on the front door and there were accumulations of waste and vegetation to the front and rear of the property and waste in the building itself.

Quirefast Ltd were identified as the owners of the property. A notice was served giving the company 28 days to remove all accumulations of waste, overgrown vegetation and to supply information regarding the ownership of the property. No response was received from the company.

District Judge Wendy Lloyd found the company guilty in their absence and fined them a total of £400 and awarded the Council £1,110 costs.

In another case, the court heard that in July 2013 a complaint was received that there were bags of waste in the rear yard of a terraced house in Pickwick Street Liverpool 8 which had attracted vermin.

Records showed that Leonard Beckford of Pickwick Street was the owner of the property and that BFI Property Management Ltd trading as Venmore Sales and Letting, Imperial Buildings Dale Street Liverpool was the landlord.

An inspection found that there was an accumulation of waste in the rear yard and an overfilled skip on the pavement in front of the property.

A notice was served, requiring the removal of the waste and securing of the site to prevent fly-tipping, on Leonard Beckford as the owner of the property and notices requiring details of the owner and anyone with an interest in the property to be supplied to the Council within 14 days, were served on both Leonard Beckford, and BFI Property Management Ltd.

An officer returned a number of times but although the skip was removed the rear yard was not cleared and none of the required information was supplied.

Both BFI Property Management Ltd and Leonard Beckford were found guilty in their absence.BFI Property Management Ltd were fined £400 and ordered to pay £700 costs and Leonard Beckford £600 with£800 costs.

These are the first prosecutions of this type carried out by the City Council.

Councillor Ann O'Byrne, cabinet member for housing said:- "The blight caused by empty derelict buildings to the local communities is immeasurable and it is part of the Mayoral Pledge to deal with long term vacant houses and engage with owners to bring the properties back into use. In these cases our efforts were frustrated and we had no option but to take legal action; this should be a warning to those who let their vacant property go to rack and ruin, engage with us to put the property right or face the consequences. Obtaining information about those who own or manage property is not just a bureaucratic exercise. It can be difficult to trace those responsible for property so it is very important that the notices which are issued are complied with so we can get on with tackling these problems quickly."

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