Derelict home headache for Oswaldtwistle family

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Hyndburn reporter

A DERELICT house is making life difficult for a young Oswaldtwistle family.

Number 31 Frederick Street has been empty for five years and has become rundown, with the recent storms wreaking havoc on the terraced property.

Simone Cleary lives next door with her husband Jonathan, and their 15-month-old son Lucas.

The council worker said: “Half of an upstairs window was hanging off. It was removed by the council but the window was not boarded up.

“So in all this bad weather, I’ve had to listen to doors slamming all through the night, not to mention the disturbance and upset to my son.”

Mrs Cleary said the roof of the privately-owned home has started to bow, and the ceiling inside the empty home is visibly ‘coming down’.

She said: “Since Hyndburn Council was closed, I contacted the out-of-hours number.

“They finally admitted they cannot get hold of a building inspector, so if anything happens - as in a collapse or wind damage - I was advised to ring the fire brigade, which I’m sure they’d be thrilled to hear.

“The council has known about problems with this property for a long time, and it seems we have to wait until it literally falls down before anything will be done.”

Mrs Cleary said she has read reports on the council’s website about its work to tackle rundown properties in the borough.

She added: “This one property is letting the street down, and I can’t get them to do anything about it.

“I have a one-year-old son who can’t sleep. I can’t ring the fire service about that.”

Nobody at Hyndburn Council was available for comment yesterday.

Comments (17)

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8:15pm Sat 4 Jan 14

grumpyoldlady says...

Who cares about the plight of this young family? Answer, nobody. It is time our local authorities and government departments got to grips with these problems. If a councillor or MP lived next door to such a property something would soon be done. I really wish I was in charge of changing our namby pamby laws that allow property owners to inflict misery on others. One other example in Blackburn is the Corporation Hotel on Revidge Road, although a conservation area the ex public house is a total eyesore with the perimeter wall collapsed onto the pavement and what are Blackburn with Darwen Council doing about it? Answers on a postcard.
Who cares about the plight of this young family? Answer, nobody. It is time our local authorities and government departments got to grips with these problems. If a councillor or MP lived next door to such a property something would soon be done. I really wish I was in charge of changing our namby pamby laws that allow property owners to inflict misery on others. One other example in Blackburn is the Corporation Hotel on Revidge Road, although a conservation area the ex public house is a total eyesore with the perimeter wall collapsed onto the pavement and what are Blackburn with Darwen Council doing about it? Answers on a postcard. grumpyoldlady
  • Score: 16

8:44pm Sat 4 Jan 14

vicn1956 says...

But we build on greenfield sites!
But we build on greenfield sites! vicn1956
  • Score: 12

9:11pm Sat 4 Jan 14

useyourhead says...

You have to be persistant, keep ringing and emailing and if they give any dates or deadlines... be on the phone the next day to ask why they missed them (which i guarantee they will, several times). They rely on you not having the perserverence to keep chasing it. then it drifts to the bottom of the 'to do' list and off into the ether. Next thing, low n behold that employee has moved, left, been promoted etc and the new one.... you guessed it...... has absolutely no record of your complaint, says 'you need to submit it in writing'...... Be warned though, you need a thick skin because you really quite often do have to push past the point where they let you know your a pest and you end up feeling in the wrong lol. Good luck with your quest.
You have to be persistant, keep ringing and emailing and if they give any dates or deadlines... be on the phone the next day to ask why they missed them (which i guarantee they will, several times). They rely on you not having the perserverence to keep chasing it. then it drifts to the bottom of the 'to do' list and off into the ether. Next thing, low n behold that employee has moved, left, been promoted etc and the new one.... you guessed it...... has absolutely no record of your complaint, says 'you need to submit it in writing'...... Be warned though, you need a thick skin because you really quite often do have to push past the point where they let you know your a pest and you end up feeling in the wrong lol. Good luck with your quest. useyourhead
  • Score: 10

11:52pm Sat 4 Jan 14

Michael@ClitheroeSince58 says...

This is just not on, I don't know what the law states regarding properties abandoned like this but if people are suffering like this then emergency measures need to be taken. Get it sort now!!!
This is just not on, I don't know what the law states regarding properties abandoned like this but if people are suffering like this then emergency measures need to be taken. Get it sort now!!! Michael@ClitheroeSince58
  • Score: 7

12:00am Sun 5 Jan 14

shirtbox2003 says...

the clown hall has the power to serve an injunction on the owner of this property giving him notice to rectify any problems it is causing to anyone.they know who owns it as someone is paying rates on it or if not they can take over the property,but as Hyndburn is now a labour council then it could be tricky.go see a solicitor.or contact your house insurers they have usually inclusive in your policy means to get legal assistance in these cases.good luck.
the clown hall has the power to serve an injunction on the owner of this property giving him notice to rectify any problems it is causing to anyone.they know who owns it as someone is paying rates on it or if not they can take over the property,but as Hyndburn is now a labour council then it could be tricky.go see a solicitor.or contact your house insurers they have usually inclusive in your policy means to get legal assistance in these cases.good luck. shirtbox2003
  • Score: 10

12:50am Sun 5 Jan 14

ossy-girl says...

Hyndburn Council are absolutely rubbish poor customer service staff fobbing people off and i bet they are paid a fortune to give such stupid advise like that,, they need to have a big shake up and sort out genuine complaints from genuine people and sort the customer service staff out they are very rude i have had many problems with them lately too
Hyndburn Council are absolutely rubbish poor customer service staff fobbing people off and i bet they are paid a fortune to give such stupid advise like that,, they need to have a big shake up and sort out genuine complaints from genuine people and sort the customer service staff out they are very rude i have had many problems with them lately too ossy-girl
  • Score: 4

2:00am Sun 5 Jan 14

Michael@ClitheroeSince58 says...

I'm wired 24 hrs a day everything I say is recorded online for the last 10 years, same regards my property , it's very simple to do and sorts things legally once and for all ;)
I'm wired 24 hrs a day everything I say is recorded online for the last 10 years, same regards my property , it's very simple to do and sorts things legally once and for all ;) Michael@ClitheroeSince58
  • Score: 0

1:17pm Sun 5 Jan 14

Cllr Ken Moss says...

I would like to negate all of the points made above and dispel a few myths regarding this issue at HBC.

We took control in 2011 and at that time there were approximately 2,200 empty homes in the borough, all of which required chasing up and the owners notifying to fill them or pay the consequences. We are still ploughing through that list and Deputy Leader of HBC, Cllr Clare Pritchard, is working with her team to reduce that number each month. I have been in Housing and Regeneration forum meetings and the work being done is fantastic but it is a long job.

The days of half Council tax for an empty home are gone, in fact now it becomes double after a year in order to give a serious financial incentive to keep those houses in good order. It is definitely having an impact but there are still those landlords who are rogue and simply don't care. The MP for Hyndburn, Graham Jones, is pushing through parliament for stronger powers to deal with this whilst at the same time looking to improve conditions for tenants.

No complaints are forgotten or filed away and no one is considered a pest because they keep reporting things. Writing or an email to enquiries@hyndburnbc
.gov.uk is still the best way of reporting things because all the facts are in black and white and a log number is generated but don't be afraid to hassle your local Councillor, that is what we're here for.

No one would have been available for comment at HBC because the offices are closed until 6th January but I will log this property myself to ensure that it is flagged up. I feel certain that it already is being looked at but if it hasn't previously been reported in the past 2 years it may be that it has simply not been registered as an immediate problem. It clearly is and can now be investigated.
I would like to negate all of the points made above and dispel a few myths regarding this issue at HBC. We took control in 2011 and at that time there were approximately 2,200 empty homes in the borough, all of which required chasing up and the owners notifying to fill them or pay the consequences. We are still ploughing through that list and Deputy Leader of HBC, Cllr Clare Pritchard, is working with her team to reduce that number each month. I have been in Housing and Regeneration forum meetings and the work being done is fantastic but it is a long job. The days of half Council tax for an empty home are gone, in fact now it becomes double after a year in order to give a serious financial incentive to keep those houses in good order. It is definitely having an impact but there are still those landlords who are rogue and simply don't care. The MP for Hyndburn, Graham Jones, is pushing through parliament for stronger powers to deal with this whilst at the same time looking to improve conditions for tenants. No complaints are forgotten or filed away and no one is considered a pest because they keep reporting things. Writing or an email to enquiries@hyndburnbc .gov.uk is still the best way of reporting things because all the facts are in black and white and a log number is generated but don't be afraid to hassle your local Councillor, that is what we're here for. No one would have been available for comment at HBC because the offices are closed until 6th January but I will log this property myself to ensure that it is flagged up. I feel certain that it already is being looked at but if it hasn't previously been reported in the past 2 years it may be that it has simply not been registered as an immediate problem. It clearly is and can now be investigated. Cllr Ken Moss
  • Score: 3

8:18pm Sun 5 Jan 14

buckoff says...

Its worth logging it on fixmystreet.com then its in black and white and they report it to the council. I have used this several times and the response is very quick. Not sure if you can report a house but I would just do it and see at least then its on record.
Its worth logging it on fixmystreet.com then its in black and white and they report it to the council. I have used this several times and the response is very quick. Not sure if you can report a house but I would just do it and see at least then its on record. buckoff
  • Score: 1

8:29pm Sun 5 Jan 14

2 for 5p ridesagain says...

I notice that in the article, the couple seem aprensive about ringing the Fire Brigade. My advice to you is call them especially when the council have advised you to.
It might interrupted there game of snooker, or there darts tournament, but they will get over it
I notice that in the article, the couple seem aprensive about ringing the Fire Brigade. My advice to you is call them especially when the council have advised you to. It might interrupted there game of snooker, or there darts tournament, but they will get over it 2 for 5p ridesagain
  • Score: -6

8:16am Mon 6 Jan 14

Mary Queen of Spots says...

Cllr Ken Moss wrote:
I would like to negate all of the points made above and dispel a few myths regarding this issue at HBC.

We took control in 2011 and at that time there were approximately 2,200 empty homes in the borough, all of which required chasing up and the owners notifying to fill them or pay the consequences. We are still ploughing through that list and Deputy Leader of HBC, Cllr Clare Pritchard, is working with her team to reduce that number each month. I have been in Housing and Regeneration forum meetings and the work being done is fantastic but it is a long job.

The days of half Council tax for an empty home are gone, in fact now it becomes double after a year in order to give a serious financial incentive to keep those houses in good order. It is definitely having an impact but there are still those landlords who are rogue and simply don't care. The MP for Hyndburn, Graham Jones, is pushing through parliament for stronger powers to deal with this whilst at the same time looking to improve conditions for tenants.

No complaints are forgotten or filed away and no one is considered a pest because they keep reporting things. Writing or an email to enquiries@hyndburnbc

.gov.uk is still the best way of reporting things because all the facts are in black and white and a log number is generated but don't be afraid to hassle your local Councillor, that is what we're here for.

No one would have been available for comment at HBC because the offices are closed until 6th January but I will log this property myself to ensure that it is flagged up. I feel certain that it already is being looked at but if it hasn't previously been reported in the past 2 years it may be that it has simply not been registered as an immediate problem. It clearly is and can now be investigated.
Can Ken tell us a little more about the success achieved in this matter? In particular, how has the number of such empty properties changed since he and his colleagues assumed responsibility?
[quote][p][bold]Cllr Ken Moss[/bold] wrote: I would like to negate all of the points made above and dispel a few myths regarding this issue at HBC. We took control in 2011 and at that time there were approximately 2,200 empty homes in the borough, all of which required chasing up and the owners notifying to fill them or pay the consequences. We are still ploughing through that list and Deputy Leader of HBC, Cllr Clare Pritchard, is working with her team to reduce that number each month. I have been in Housing and Regeneration forum meetings and the work being done is fantastic but it is a long job. The days of half Council tax for an empty home are gone, in fact now it becomes double after a year in order to give a serious financial incentive to keep those houses in good order. It is definitely having an impact but there are still those landlords who are rogue and simply don't care. The MP for Hyndburn, Graham Jones, is pushing through parliament for stronger powers to deal with this whilst at the same time looking to improve conditions for tenants. No complaints are forgotten or filed away and no one is considered a pest because they keep reporting things. Writing or an email to enquiries@hyndburnbc .gov.uk is still the best way of reporting things because all the facts are in black and white and a log number is generated but don't be afraid to hassle your local Councillor, that is what we're here for. No one would have been available for comment at HBC because the offices are closed until 6th January but I will log this property myself to ensure that it is flagged up. I feel certain that it already is being looked at but if it hasn't previously been reported in the past 2 years it may be that it has simply not been registered as an immediate problem. It clearly is and can now be investigated.[/p][/quote]Can Ken tell us a little more about the success achieved in this matter? In particular, how has the number of such empty properties changed since he and his colleagues assumed responsibility? Mary Queen of Spots
  • Score: 0

9:27am Mon 6 Jan 14

January-girl says...

I would also be interested in the success achieved above and how many empty empty properties have been dealt with?

I am aware that the property mentioned in the article has been empty for a number of years and reported to HBC on a lot of occasions by numerous residents - well before 2011.

Council offices were open on 2 Jan as I have contacted them myself so not a reason for lack of comment or update on this property.
I would also be interested in the success achieved above and how many empty empty properties have been dealt with? I am aware that the property mentioned in the article has been empty for a number of years and reported to HBC on a lot of occasions by numerous residents - well before 2011. Council offices were open on 2 Jan as I have contacted them myself so not a reason for lack of comment or update on this property. January-girl
  • Score: 0

9:45am Mon 6 Jan 14

ste220 says...

2 for 5p ridesagain wrote:
I notice that in the article, the couple seem aprensive about ringing the Fire Brigade. My advice to you is call them especially when the council have advised you to. It might interrupted there game of snooker, or there darts tournament, but they will get over it
and whilst visiting this property there may be somebody in an emergency situation in NEED of their help. whilst not on a call, what do you expect them to do? you are a prize idiot..........yet again.

the council really need to get these things sorted.
[quote][p][bold]2 for 5p ridesagain[/bold] wrote: I notice that in the article, the couple seem aprensive about ringing the Fire Brigade. My advice to you is call them especially when the council have advised you to. It might interrupted there game of snooker, or there darts tournament, but they will get over it[/p][/quote]and whilst visiting this property there may be somebody in an emergency situation in NEED of their help. whilst not on a call, what do you expect them to do? you are a prize idiot..........yet again. the council really need to get these things sorted. ste220
  • Score: 1

9:51am Mon 6 Jan 14

Cllr Ken Moss says...

I'm only really involved on the periphery but I've been in on a couple of meetings and at the last one in November 62 long term empties had been brought back into use since May 2013. This does not take into account properties which have fallen into disrepair and have had enforcement orders served on them, this figure seems to be between around 50 and 80 at each meeting. Meetings are roughly every six weeks.

With regard to this particular case I have had a statement from the Empty Properties office this morning:

“Council enforcement officers have served several notices on 31 Frederick Street in the past which included two section 80s of the environmental protection act 1990, requiring the owner to remove rubbish from the yard and fit new guttering and dry the property out with heaters and dehumidifiers. In June 2013 we also asked the owner to the put some temporary supports in the loft space. Most recently our building control team were alerted to the problem of the front upstairs window opener which was hanging dangerously above the public foot path. They arranged for the danger to be removed on 23/12/2013 under the building act 1984 Section 78. Under the local Government Misc Provisions Act 1984 section 29 the Council can only secure ground floor windows that are open to access. Officers now plan to serve a new notice on the owner that will require a new roof, new windows, a new front door, removal of all wastes and a new shed roof and various other works.”
I'm only really involved on the periphery but I've been in on a couple of meetings and at the last one in November 62 long term empties had been brought back into use since May 2013. This does not take into account properties which have fallen into disrepair and have had enforcement orders served on them, this figure seems to be between around 50 and 80 at each meeting. Meetings are roughly every six weeks. With regard to this particular case I have had a statement from the Empty Properties office this morning: “Council enforcement officers have served several notices on 31 Frederick Street in the past which included two section 80s of the environmental protection act 1990, requiring the owner to remove rubbish from the yard and fit new guttering and dry the property out with heaters and dehumidifiers. In June 2013 we also asked the owner to the put some temporary supports in the loft space. Most recently our building control team were alerted to the problem of the front upstairs window opener which was hanging dangerously above the public foot path. They arranged for the danger to be removed on 23/12/2013 under the building act 1984 Section 78. Under the local Government Misc Provisions Act 1984 section 29 the Council can only secure ground floor windows that are open to access. Officers now plan to serve a new notice on the owner that will require a new roof, new windows, a new front door, removal of all wastes and a new shed roof and various other works.” Cllr Ken Moss
  • Score: 0

10:37am Mon 6 Jan 14

January-girl says...

This is very helpful information, is there a timescale for works to be carried out?

It's all good and well saying the council only has certain powers but what about the affect on the day to day life of a young family? This should be resolved as quickly as possible.
This is very helpful information, is there a timescale for works to be carried out? It's all good and well saying the council only has certain powers but what about the affect on the day to day life of a young family? This should be resolved as quickly as possible. January-girl
  • Score: 2

11:52am Mon 6 Jan 14

Cllr Ken Moss says...

The straight answer is that I don't know although 90 days is floating in my memory from somewhere, I could be wrong. Whatever it is I know that it will never be considered quick enough for anyone unfortunate enough to live next door to such a property as described here. I think that timescales differ depending on what the problem is, for example a property which is wide open and will attract squatters or vandals will usually be secured within 24 hours and the owners billed.

Unfortunately, we are bound by the law and cannot force owners to sort things out any faster than is laid down by Westminster. The trick really is to make it so hard for unscrupulous landlords that they stop buying properties and leaving them to rot and this is what we are actively working towards.
The straight answer is that I don't know although 90 days is floating in my memory from somewhere, I could be wrong. Whatever it is I know that it will never be considered quick enough for anyone unfortunate enough to live next door to such a property as described here. I think that timescales differ depending on what the problem is, for example a property which is wide open and will attract squatters or vandals will usually be secured within 24 hours and the owners billed. Unfortunately, we are bound by the law and cannot force owners to sort things out any faster than is laid down by Westminster. The trick really is to make it so hard for unscrupulous landlords that they stop buying properties and leaving them to rot and this is what we are actively working towards. Cllr Ken Moss
  • Score: 0

7:16pm Mon 6 Jan 14

Legal Beagle says...

This property is owned by a Mr Edward James Grant. He bought it in 1989 with a mortgage from the Halifax.

He was sued for debt by Yorkshire Bank in 1991 and in the same year they obtained judgment, and then obtained a charging order on the house securing the judgment debt.

In 1997 the Inland Revenue obtained judgment against him for unpaid tax, and they also obtained a charging order the following year.

The likelihood is that the combined value of these three secured debts is well in excess of the value of the property, so that Mr Grant couldn't give a stuff about the house.

The Council have the power to compulsorily purchase it, and they need to do so ASAP.
This property is owned by a Mr Edward James Grant. He bought it in 1989 with a mortgage from the Halifax. He was sued for debt by Yorkshire Bank in 1991 and in the same year they obtained judgment, and then obtained a charging order on the house securing the judgment debt. In 1997 the Inland Revenue obtained judgment against him for unpaid tax, and they also obtained a charging order the following year. The likelihood is that the combined value of these three secured debts is well in excess of the value of the property, so that Mr Grant couldn't give a stuff about the house. The Council have the power to compulsorily purchase it, and they need to do so ASAP. Legal Beagle
  • Score: 1

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