Empty Homes List

Joshua Silverstone made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council Nid oedd gan y wybodaeth y gofynnwyd amdani.

Joshua Silverstone

Dear Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council,

I am writing to ask you to supply details of the address (including street number and postcode) of homes that

a) have been empty for over 6 months
b) have been empty for under 6 months
c) your empty homes strategy including what empty homes (if any) you prioritise.

I currently have a portfolio of investment properties and would very much like to work with the council to bring empty properties in the area back into a habitable state and to work with the council in tackling the massive shortage of accommodation in the area. I have my own funding as well, which I would like to invest into the restoration of these empty and/or derelict properties.

Yours faithfully,

Joshua Silverstone

Freedom Of Info, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Joshua Silverstone

We acknowledge with thanks your request for information held by Bolton
Council received at this office on 30 October 2019.

This request will be considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
and may take up to 20 working days to be processed (although we will
endeavour to provide the information as quickly as possible).

Please be advised that if an exemption applies to the information that you
have requested, the statutory period may be exceeded in accordance with
the provisions of the act.

Please retain the reference number RFI 004418 for any future enquiries
regarding this matter.

Many thanks,

 

The Information Governance Team

1^st Floor, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1 1RU

 

 

>>Corporate Logo<<
This e-mail and any attached files are confidential and may also be
legally privileged. They are intended solely for the intended addressee.
If you are not the addressee please e-mail it back to the sender and then
immediately, permanently delete it. Do not read, print, re-transmit, store
or act in reliance on it. This e-mail may be monitored by Bolton Council
in accordance with current regulations.

This footnote also confirms that this e-mail message has been swept for
the presence of computer viruses currently known to Bolton Council.
However, the recipient is responsible for virus-checking before opening
this message and any attachment.

Unless expressly stated to the contrary, any views expressed in this
message are those of the individual sender and may not necessarily reflect
the views of Bolton Council.

http://www.bolton.gov.uk/

Freedom Of Info, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

2 Atodiad

  • Attachment

    68058 Empty property programme 2016 2017 Exec Cabinet Member 2016 FINAL.pdf

    212K Download View as HTML

  • Attachment

    68059 Monitoring of Executive Member Decisions 17.10.2016 for the Empty Homes Programme.pdf

    108K Download View as HTML

Dear Joshua Silverstone

Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

In response to your request for information received at this office on
30/10/2019 please see the councils response below.

You requested

I am writing to ask you to supply details of the address (including street
number and postcode) of homes that

a) have been empty for over 6 months

b) have been empty for under 6 months

c) your empty homes strategy including what empty homes (if any) you
prioritise.

Our response

Bolton Council has considered your request and feels that the information
you have requested in a & b is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (“the Act”). Section 17 of the Act provides that when
refusing a request, Bolton Council must provide a notice which (a) states
that fact, (b) specifies the exemption in question, and (c) states (if
that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies. In this
case, we consider that the exemptions under section 31(1)(a) of the Act
applies to this information

 

Section 31(1)(a) provides an exemption where disclosure would, or would be
likely to harm the prevention and detection of crime. In accordance with
this the council are withholding the information requested in terms of
empty residential property. We are aware that crimes perpetrated at empty
properties include vandalism, theft, illegal occupation, criminal damage
and stripping of properties. These are always problems in urban regions
such as Bolton, but the following examples identified via a search of the
local newspaper’s website clearly reveal that drug cultivation in
properties is also a very real problem in the Bolton area:

 

[1]http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1337...

 

[2]http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1378...

 

In applying this exemption we have considered whether the balance of
public interest lies in releasing or withholding, and also took into
account the decision on 22^nd January 2013 of the Upper Information
Tribunal in [3]Voyias v IC and Camden Council.

 

There is a definite public interest in filling the empty properties in any
community, and in providing people currently looking for property to live
in with information about those empty properties that are available, and
releasing the requested information into the public domain could assist
both of these situations. However, both of these situations are also
already served by the availability of information from letting agencies
and estate agents about empty residential properties. In addition, in this
situation the owners of the properties have consented to the agents
releasing their information into the public domain in this way. There is
also the opportunity to apply for the matchmakers scheme which is on the
Council’s website via the link below you can then register as an investor
and look at the advertised empty properties which are listed online.

 

[4]https://selfserve.bolton.gov.uk/citizenp...

 

There is a definite public interest in withholding the requested
information, so as to prevent crime and criminal damage occurring at empty
properties. There is also a clear public interest in withholding to lower
the possibility of risk and distress to individuals living in the vicinity
of these properties, to avoid depreciation of the value of the houses
located around damaged properties and to prevent the increased use of
public resources such as the police and other emergency services, all of
which are consequences of criminal acts committed on or at empty
properties.

 

In addition there is a public interest from the owners of the properties
in withholding, as these are the parties would incur costs and
inconvenience removing any squatters, making good any damage done to their
properties and also increasing the security measures that they have in
place to protect their properties.

 

We therefore believe that the balance of public interest clearly lies in
not disclosing the requested information for this part of your request. In
accordance with the Act, this email constitutes a refusal notice.

 

In response to Question c I have attached the report and a pdf of the
monitoring decision in relation to the empty homes programme – although
this is 2016-17 the Council are still following this programme. To clarify
we don’t have an empty homes strategy we have an empty homes programme.

 

As per the Information Commissioners Office’s Freedom of Information Code
of Practice, should you disagree with our decision, you may appeal within
40 working days of this email to:
The Borough Solicitor, Bolton Council, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1 1RU
Email: [5][email address]

Should you further disagree with the decision following the appeal you may
wish to contact the Information Commissioner:
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
[6]www.ico.gov.uk
Tel: 01625 545700, Fax: 01625 524510

Should you have any queries, please contact
[email address]<[7]mailto:[email address]>

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance Officer

Bolton Council

Information Governance, Legal Services, Room 120, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1
1RU

>>Corporate Logo<<

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

In response to your request for information received at this office on
30/10/2019_Calc, please see the councils response below.

You requested

I am writing to ask you to supply details of the address (including street
number and postcode) of homes that a) have been empty for over 6 months b)
have been empty for under 6 months c) your empty homes strategy including
what empty homes (if any) you prioritise.

Our response

Bolton Council has considered your request and feels that the information
you have requested in relation to credit balances on business rates
accounts is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act
2000 (“the Act”). Section 17 of the Act provides that when refusing a
request, Bolton Council must provide a notice which (a) states that fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and (c) states (if that would not
otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies. In this case, we
consider that the exemption under section 31(1)(a) of the Act applies to
this information

Section 31(1)(a) provides an exemption where disclosure would, or would be
likely to harm the prevention and detection of crime. In accordance with
this the council are withholding the information requested in relation to
credit balances on business rates accounts as placing a list of unclaimed
business rate credits in the public domain would be extremely useful to
those seeking to defraud the Council and the businesses who are
legitimately owed the credit.

When dealing with enquiries about a particular account, the Council has
only limited ways of ensuring that the person who contacts the Council is
actually authorised to discuss and deal with the account. In most cases
the enquirer can be asked to confirm the account reference number but
where that is not available other information can be checked, such as
those elements of this request.

Any information released in response to a request under the Freedom of
Information Act cannot be considered in the context of release solely to
the party making the request and must instead be considered as release of
the requested information into the public domain. With this in mind the
Council’s ability to protect any confidential information, such as bank
account details or other financial information would be significantly
decreased on disclosure of the requested information. The council would
also be significantly increasing the risk of fraudulent refunds being
claimed on the account as well as other fraudulent activity. It is
therefore this Authority’s view that Section 31 of the Freedom of
Information Act applies to this request.

In applying this exemption we have considered whether the balance of
public interest lies in releasing or withholding, and also took into
account the decision and arguments contained within the Information
Commissioner decision involving Wandsworth Council (FS50619844
<[8]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...>
).

When assessing whether or not it was in the public interest to disclose
the information to you, despite the exemption being applicable, we took
into account the following factors:

Public interest considerations favouring disclosure
*       Withholding the information could be perceived as the council
attempting to retain monies that belong to the public.
*       It is in the public interest to be open and transparent about our
use of public funds.
*       It is also in the public interest to provide some transparency
regarding the records we hold in respect of the collection and
administration of taxes. This could be of interest to the minority of
people who are due a refund, but have somehow failed to receive the
notifications that money is due to them.

Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information
*       There is a public interest in ensuring that monies from the public
purse, such as rebates on business rate accounts, are not fraudulently
claimed and also a public interest in not making it easier for fraud to be
committed.
*       Our current verification procedure for refund claims is simple and
cost effective. Disclosure of the requested information would result in
additional verification processes needing to be implemented, at additional
cost to the public which appeared disproportionate to the benefits that
would accrue from disclosure. The additional verification procedures would
also be likely to slow the verification process, resulting in detriment to
the genuine ratepayer which would be contrary to the public interest.
*       In relation to any new verification processes that might be
needed, these would be likely to require the production of additional
documents by those claiming a refund which would place a new
administrative burden on the majority of those legitimate claimants that
did not currently exist. This would be compounded by the fact that the
level of scrutiny of those documents would be higher than at present,
given the increased suspicion that some of the claims (and associated
documents) might well be fraudulent. The result would be that a new
verification process would be likely to slow the rate at which credit
balance claims could be considered and refunded, causing delay in all
refunds and the likelihood of complaints, which would further burden our
limited resources.
*       Disclosure of the requested information would result in the need
to implement disproportionate steps and additional expense to the public
purse to counter an increased fraud risk that does not exist at present.
*       The cost consequences of a successful fraudulent claim would:
*       have incurred the cost of paying out to the fraudster;
*       remain liable to the legitimate rate payer for an equivalent
amount, raising the prospect of paying out twice; and
*       be faced with the cost (legal and incurrence of internal
management time) of seeking to recover the funds wrongly paid to the
fraudster.

It would not be in the public interest to expose it to such potential
costs and expenses, given that they would be funded from the public purse.

We therefore believe that the balance of public interest clearly lies in
not disclosing the requested information for your request.

In accordance with the Act, this email constitutes a refusal notice for
your request.

As per the Information Commissioners Office’s Freedom of Information Code
of Practice, should you disagree with our decision, you may appeal within
40 working days of this email to:
The Borough Solicitor, Bolton Council, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1 1RU
Email: [email address] <[9]mailto:[email address]>

Should you further disagree with the decision following the appeal you may
wish to contact the Information Commissioner:
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk <[10]http://www.ico.gov.uk/>
Tel: 01625 545700, Fax: 01625 524510

Should you have any queries, please contact [email address]
<[11]mailto:[email address]>

Yours sincerely

This e-mail and any attached files are confidential and may also be
legally privileged. They are intended solely for the intended addressee.
If you are not the addressee please e-mail it back to the sender and then
immediately, permanently delete it. Do not read, print, re-transmit, store
or act in reliance on it. This e-mail may be monitored by Bolton Council
in accordance with current regulations.

This footnote also confirms that this e-mail message has been swept for
the presence of computer viruses currently known to Bolton Council.
However, the recipient is responsible for virus-checking before opening
this message and any attachment.

Unless expressly stated to the contrary, any views expressed in this
message are those of the individual sender and may not necessarily reflect
the views of Bolton Council.

http://www.bolton.gov.uk/

References

Visible links
1. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1337...
2. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1378...
3. http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...
4. https://selfserve.bolton.gov.uk/citizenp...
5. mailto:[email address]
6. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
7. mailto:[email address]
8. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
9. mailto:[email address]
10. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
11. mailto:[email address]

Freedom Of Info, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

2 Atodiad

  • Attachment

    68058 Empty property programme 2016 2017 Exec Cabinet Member 2016 FINAL.pdf

    212K Download View as HTML

  • Attachment

    68059 Monitoring of Executive Member Decisions 17.10.2016 for the Empty Homes Programme.pdf

    108K Download View as HTML

Dear Joshua Silverstone

Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

In response to your request for information received at this office on
30/10/2019 please see the councils response below.

You requested

I am writing to ask you to supply details of the address (including street
number and postcode) of homes that

a) have been empty for over 6 months

b) have been empty for under 6 months

c) your empty homes strategy including what empty homes (if any) you
prioritise.

Our response

Bolton Council has considered your request and feels that the information
you have requested in a & b is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (“the Act”). Section 17 of the Act provides that when
refusing a request, Bolton Council must provide a notice which (a) states
that fact, (b) specifies the exemption in question, and (c) states (if
that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies. In this
case, we consider that the exemptions under section 31(1)(a) of the Act
applies to this information

 

Section 31(1)(a) provides an exemption where disclosure would, or would be
likely to harm the prevention and detection of crime. In accordance with
this the council are withholding the information requested in terms of
empty residential property. We are aware that crimes perpetrated at empty
properties include vandalism, theft, illegal occupation, criminal damage
and stripping of properties. These are always problems in urban regions
such as Bolton, but the following examples identified via a search of the
local newspaper’s website clearly reveal that drug cultivation in
properties is also a very real problem in the Bolton area:

 

[1]http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1337...

 

[2]http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1378...

 

In applying this exemption we have considered whether the balance of
public interest lies in releasing or withholding, and also took into
account the decision on 22^nd January 2013 of the Upper Information
Tribunal in [3]Voyias v IC and Camden Council.

 

There is a definite public interest in filling the empty properties in any
community, and in providing people currently looking for property to live
in with information about those empty properties that are available, and
releasing the requested information into the public domain could assist
both of these situations. However, both of these situations are also
already served by the availability of information from letting agencies
and estate agents about empty residential properties. In addition, in this
situation the owners of the properties have consented to the agents
releasing their information into the public domain in this way. There is
also the opportunity to apply for the matchmakers scheme which is on the
Council’s website via the link below you can then register as an investor
and look at the advertised empty properties which are listed online.

 

[4]https://selfserve.bolton.gov.uk/citizenp...

 

There is a definite public interest in withholding the requested
information, so as to prevent crime and criminal damage occurring at empty
properties. There is also a clear public interest in withholding to lower
the possibility of risk and distress to individuals living in the vicinity
of these properties, to avoid depreciation of the value of the houses
located around damaged properties and to prevent the increased use of
public resources such as the police and other emergency services, all of
which are consequences of criminal acts committed on or at empty
properties.

 

In addition there is a public interest from the owners of the properties
in withholding, as these are the parties would incur costs and
inconvenience removing any squatters, making good any damage done to their
properties and also increasing the security measures that they have in
place to protect their properties.

 

We therefore believe that the balance of public interest clearly lies in
not disclosing the requested information for this part of your request. In
accordance with the Act, this email constitutes a refusal notice.

 

In response to Question c I have attached the report and a pdf of the
monitoring decision in relation to the empty homes programme – although
this is 2016-17 the Council are still following this programme. To clarify
we don’t have an empty homes strategy we have an empty homes programme.

 

As per the Information Commissioners Office’s Freedom of Information Code
of Practice, should you disagree with our decision, you may appeal within
40 working days of this email to:
The Borough Solicitor, Bolton Council, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1 1RU
Email: [5][email address]

Should you further disagree with the decision following the appeal you may
wish to contact the Information Commissioner:
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
[6]www.ico.gov.uk
Tel: 01625 545700, Fax: 01625 524510

Should you have any queries, please contact
[email address]<[7]mailto:[email address]>

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance Officer

Bolton Council

Information Governance, Legal Services, Room 120, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1
1RU

>>Corporate Logo<<

 

This e-mail and any attached files are confidential and may also be
legally privileged. They are intended solely for the intended addressee.
If you are not the addressee please e-mail it back to the sender and then
immediately, permanently delete it. Do not read, print, re-transmit, store
or act in reliance on it. This e-mail may be monitored by Bolton Council
in accordance with current regulations.

This footnote also confirms that this e-mail message has been swept for
the presence of computer viruses currently known to Bolton Council.
However, the recipient is responsible for virus-checking before opening
this message and any attachment.

Unless expressly stated to the contrary, any views expressed in this
message are those of the individual sender and may not necessarily reflect
the views of Bolton Council.

http://www.bolton.gov.uk/

References

Visible links
1. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1337...
2. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/1378...
3. http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...
4. https://selfserve.bolton.gov.uk/citizenp...
5. mailto:[email address]
6. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
7. mailto:[email address]