A man who allowed a two bedroom house in Kegworth stay empty for over 18 years was fined £2,500 plus costs by Leicester Magistrates Court on 5 July 2018 for not providing information about the property.
In its work to reduce the number of empty properties in the district, North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) has been trying to contact Mr McGrath for over two years to encourage him to bring an empty property he owns on Station Road back into use. This has included letters offering support, serving notices and taking action when the property poses a risk to the public.
Despite continued efforts encourage Mr McGrath to make contact, none was received and the property remained empty, so officers sent him a Requisition for Information, marking the start of a formal process which allows councils to bring empty properties back into use.
No response was provided by Mr McGrath and he did not appear in court so was sentenced in his absence. He has been ordered to pay a £2,500 fine, plus costs of £638.
The council will now continue its efforts to make contact with Mr McGrath and bring the property back into use. If Mr McGrath still does not respond, the council can take further legal action.
There are currently around 500 long term empty properties in North West Leicestershire, which NWLDC is working to bring back into use through its dedicated empty homes officer.
Councillor Alison Smith MBE, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Community Services at NWLDC, said: “Empty properties can be a blight on a community. Having homes sitting empty while others struggle to buy or rent in the area is disheartening for the neighbourhood around, but the building itself can also have a poor appearance or attract crime and vandalism.
“We are committed to reducing the number of empty houses in our district and work with property owners to bring homes back into use. However, when owners willingly let their properties remain empty, we will take action against them.”