Steps taken to force sale of ‘uninhabitable’ St Albans property

Money stock image. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

Money stock image. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Steps are being taken to force the owner of an “uninhabitable” St Albans residence to sell it to the council.

A cabinet meeting of St Albans district council (SADC) heard there had been numerous complaints about the property over many years because of its "poor condition".

The SADC officer's report said the current owner bought it more than 40 years ago, and shortly after intended to convert it into two residential flats.

Although building work was started, an inspection in October 2018 ruled it would cost £100,000 to complete the outstanding work.

The report says: "Neighbouring properties on either side have complained a number of times over the years. These complaints mainly relate to the property attracting anti-social behaviour and the garden becoming overgrown.

"Councillors have also expressed concerns about the condition of this property.

"The owner claims he visits the property on a regular basis, spends time there, and has no intention of renting it out."

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At the meeting, councillors voted to apply to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government for a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).

SADC leader Cllr Chris White said: "Do you expect us to have to go all the way through with a CPO or are you hoping that this will, shall we say, unblock the problem?"

Housing, inclusion and protection portfolio holder, Cllr Jacqui Taylor, replied: "There have been previous examples whereby going down this road with a CPO has meant that properties have been voluntarily then brought back into use by the actual order, and thus the CPO in the end has not needed to go through.

"So it is a possibility that this will prompt the owner to bring the property back into use but that is obviously not a guarantee."

The homeowner would be paid the property's market value, with compensation of 7.5 per cent of that figure on top.

Property, commercial and development portfolio holder, Cllr Robert Donald, said: "It would seem, looking through the report, that this is the most cost effective way of bringing back a property that has been empty for really quite a long time and causing difficulties for the neighbourhood locally and for councillors."

The exact costings of the CPO and address of the property were restricted by SADC.