Council cracking down on disused homes

Jim Murray
Jim Murray

Around 250 city homes are in a state of disrepair or lying vacant despite 450 families or individuals having approached the council for accommodation.

A new council-led scheme is set to be launched to allow homeowners to call the private sector housing team for information and advice.

Milton Keynes Council has powers to cordon off a property, force absent landlords to make them safe or even demolish them.

Two houses in Great Holm have stood vacant for a number of months and the owners of one have been traced to the north of England. However, because they are paying their council tax there is little the council can do.

Officers are trying to encourage people to bring their houses back up to suitable standard so they can reduce the pressure on housing needs.

Jim Murray, who works on the council’s private sector housing team, took on the role at the start of last year and has since helped bring 70 houses back into use.

He said: “In the worst cases empty houses attract vandals, squatters, drug users or even arsonists. The gardens are often used for fly-tipping and dumping of waste, which in turn can attract vermin.”

The council confirmed it is working to reduce the number of empty properties in the city, but added that sometimes this is unavoidable.

Mr Murray said: “Often there has been an unfortunate end to a relationship or sadly one of the partners has died and a house simply holds too many unpleasant memories for the remaining person.

“Other people have been left properties in wills and they simply don’t know what to do with them.”

Anyone with information about an empty home can call Mr Murray on 01908 252376 or email jim.murray@milton-keynes.gov.uk
For more on the new scheme, Homes in Partnership, people can call the private sector housing team on 01908 252664 or email privatesectorhousing@milton-keynes.gov.uk