Bolton Council claims it is the first authority in the North to use a new form of legal sanction to bring an empty private home back into use.
The council issued a final Empty Dwelling Management Order to the landlord of 59 Queensgate, a two-bed terraced house in Halliwell. Although 25 interim EDMOs have been issued in the country, this is only the third final EDMO a local authority has issued.
An interim EDMO allows councils to carry out works and agree a tenancy with the owner of a property that has been empty for six months or more. If the owner does not co-operate then a final EDMO can be issued. This gives the council control of the property for seven years and allows work to be done and the property rented out.
The property at 59 Queensgate had a catalogue of problems including damp at the front of the property, boarded up windows and doors, ineffective guttering, no kitchen or bathroom suite.
Two years ago the owner agreed to carry out repairs and improvements before selling the property. Some works were undertaken but the owner missed a number of deadlines and an interim EDMO was granted last September for a year. Following this, there was no clear evidence of the owner bringing the property back into use so a decision was made to serve a final EDMO.
Cllr Nick Peel, Bolton Council's executive member for housing, said: "This is great news for the local residents. Our empty homes team has been actively trying to encourage the owner to bring the property back into use for the last four years, without much success. Serving the final order was a last resort for us but we are committed to bringing in as many homes back into use as we can."
A final EDMO was served last December and work to make the property fit for tenants started in January. The home has now been renovated and redecorated with improvements including: replastering and repointing the walls; replacing the windows and doors; and installing a heating system. The cost of the work was around £20,000.
Cllr Peel added: "The cost of the necessary improvements and any associated management and maintenance costs, will be charged against the rental income. Once the initial outlay has been paid off excess rent would be paid back to the owner. This process ensures that the council fully recovers its expense in taking this action."
The property will be advertised next month through Pinpoint, the Greater Manchester lettings scheme.