The WMATF is now targeting arson reduction in void/derelict commercial and dwelling properties as part of our arson reduction strategy. Research has proven that badly managed premises can result in many repeat fires and crime related incidents and are an unnecessary strain to Police and Fire Service resources.
These premises can become a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour and are clearly an eyesore and nuisance for neighbouring communities.
To reduce these unnecessary incidents the WMATF is in the process of setting up Police and Fire Service referral systems to the appropriate departments and Void Premises Officers of our Local Authorities, thus allowing more targeted work and supplying information and evidence for any subsequent prosecution proceedings.
We also recognise that the majority of void premises are well managed and to that end we must make the best information available to the property owners and managers to prevent there buildings becoming a repeat statistic.
To reduce the risk of your premises and land being used for antisocial behaviour/crime and illegal fly tipping, we suggest you:
- Secure the buildings doors and windows with appropriate metal boarding
- Remove valuables such as furniture to deter burglaries and theft
- Remove any rubbish from the site which will act like a magnet for fly tipping and a play ground for the local youths
- Continue to maintain the building and perimeter fences - it is obvious that if you don't care about your building, then why should someone else?
- Remove fly posters and remove/paint over any graffiti
- Fit burglar alarms and external lighting
- Make regular visits and remove any build up of junk mail
- Consider the disconnection of the premises utilities
- Ask any neighbours to the premises to act as your eyes and ears supplying your details to representatives of the authorities to assist in the premises management.
- Check for Local Authority grants to bring the building back in use
- Consider the use of anti climbing paint
To reduce the risk of long term void premises or premises which will not be bought back into use, we suggest:
- Remove valuable material like lead, copper and wiring to deter theft
- Remove all furniture and fitments that add to the fire loading of the building
- Disconnect electricity, gas and water, to deter intruders and assist the Fire Service and Police of unnecessary danger.
- Remove stairs and lock internal doors to stop intruders having free access to the entire property
- Brick up unnecessary doors and widows and secure the remaining buildings doors and windows with appropriate metal boarding
- Erect high quality perimeter fencing
- Arrange for the destruction of the building and remove the rubble as soon as possible
We will continue to refine and improve this information and ask anyone who can assist in this project to contact us using details in our contact page.
The premises are ultimately the owner's responsibility and could be subject to legal requirements and could ultimately conclude with a Compulsory Purchase Order. Please act now and make our communities safer.
Local Authority Legal Powers
Dangerous/ Dilapidated buildings or structures
Building Act 1984
Sec. 77 - To need the owner to make the property safe
Sec. 78 - Enable the LA to take emergency action to make the building safe
Housing Act 1985
Sec. 189 - To need the owner to make the property safe (if property unfit for human habitation)
Sec. 190 - To need the owner to make the property safe (in other cases of serious despair)
Unsecured Premises (risk it may be entered or suffer vandalism, arson or similar)
Building Act 1984
Sec. 78 - Allow the LA to fence of the property
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982
Sec. 29 - To need the owner to take steps to secure a property or allow the LA to board it up in an emergency
Vermin (present or risk of attracting vermin)
The following Acts can be used to need the owner to remove waste so that vermin is not attracted to the site:
- Public Health Act 1961 Sec. 34
- Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 Sec. 4
- Public Health Act 1936 Sec. 83
- Environmental Protection Act 1990 Sec. 80
- Building Act 1984 Sec. 76
Unsightly land and property affecting the amenity of the area
Public Health Act 1961
Sec. 34 - To need the owner to remove waste from the property
Town and Country Planning Act 1990
Sec. 215 - To need the owner to address unsightly land or the external appearance of property (Guidance)
Building Act 1984
Sec. 79 - To need the owner to take steps to address a property adversely affecting the amenity of an area through its disrepair
Detailed guidance regarding Compulsory Purchase and Compensation is available from the Communities And Local Government web site.
We will update and provide further detailed information and definitions of the various laws and acts that can be used by the Local Authorities and partners to deal with dangerous/nuisance void properties.