A LANDLORD is fighting a costly battle against thieves who keep ripping out metal and flag stones from his homes across Burnley and Pendle.
Copper pipes and electrical cables have also been stolen from 10 homes being renovated by Robert Cainer.
He branded some areas of Burnley ‘lawless’ as he was losing ‘thousands and thousands of pounds’ in repairs and lost rent and Burnley Council said it was up to landlords to get responsible tenants to live in them. And police said empty homes were easy targets for scrap metal thieves.
But Mr Cainer has appealed for other landlords to come forward to put pressure on the councils and police to tackle the issues.
Mr Cainer, who met with Pendle Council officials to discuss problems at his properties in Brierfield, said: “We’ve got properties all over the country but I’ve never known anything like the problems we have up here.
“It is, without a doubt, the worst area we have to deal with. It’s verging on lawlessness up here. We have houses in Burnley Wood that were nearly finished and now they’re being repaired again because they have been broken into recently.
“At the moment we have nine houses boarded up. I dread driving down the M65 most days.
“Each time a house is broken into, I’m losing around £2,000 replacing stolen stuff and £4,000 to £5,000 a year in lost rent.”
Mr Cainer, of Manchester-based ER Properties, said he planned to set up a pressure group to ensure empty properties are given better protection.
He said: “Not only are crime and vandalism clearly on the rise, but also the effect that this is having on communities is damaging the desire of outside developers and entrepreneurs to invest within the area.
“The existing landlord base is subjected to a crazy policy which allows the local authorities on the one hand to fail abjectly in controlling crime and vandalism to properties, while on the other hand charge empty property rates (for long-term unnoccupied properties) at 150 per cent of the usual tariff.
“Such madness results in an outflow of investment and the local authorities should be condemned for not stamping down heavily on the situation before it worsens further, and in addition should be creating a culture of inward investment from local businesses, rather than creating policies which make businesses run from the area.”
A Burnley Council spokesman said: “Burnley Council operates an empty homes loan scheme which supports private landlords by helping fund work to bring empty houses in disrepair back into use.
“Empty homes can attract anti-social behaviour and it’s in the interest of landlords and the surrounding communities to get responsible tenants into them.”
Pendle Council said it was ‘working hard’ with police to tackle anti-social behaviour and that its officers regularly patrolled problem areas.
Philip Mousdale, Pendle Council’s deputy chief executive, said: “We work with owners of empty properties to help them bring them back into use.
“Where properties are left unoccupied we advise landlords on how best to secure their backyards to try and avoid rubbish being dumped there.
“If there are cases of fly-tipping, with the permission of landlords, we’ll look for evidence of who’s responsible and take up the case on their behalf.”
Lancashire police said they were ‘committed’ to catching those who steal and trade stolen goods.
A spokesman said: “Empty premises can be easy targets for scrap metal, copper, radiators and boilers, as well as coping stone and we want to reassure the public that we are taking action against those responsible for this type of crime and we will continue to pursue burglars and bring them to justice.”
Mr Cainer urged landlords with similar problems to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.