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Empty Homes

Sam made this Freedom of Information request to Middlesbrough Council

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Dear Middlesbrough Council,

I am looking for a list of long term empty residential properties within the Council area. Would you be able to supply me these along with the registered owners address under the Freedom of Information Act?

Thanks in advance

Yours faithfully,

Sam

foi, Middlesbrough Council

Thank you for contacting the Information Requests Team. If your email is
concerning a request for information, please treat this email as an
acknowledgment of your request. A response will be provided within 20
working days of receipt.

If you are requesting personal information about yourself (Subject Access
Request), a member of the team will contact you regarding making your
request live. Subject Access Requests are subject to a statutory 30
calendar day response period.

We are still dealing with information requests (Freedom of Information
(FOI) and Subject Access Requests) but we may take longer than normal to
respond. This is in line with advice from the Information Commissioner.

Regards
Information Requests Team

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foi, Middlesbrough Council

Dear Sam

Thank you for your request for information received on 16th April 2020. Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Response: I can confirm that Middlesbrough Council holds the information you requested however, we consider that the some of the requested information is exempt from disclosure for the reasons provided below.

I can advise you that as of 1st April 2020, 1657 properties have been empty for over 6 month, of which 159 have been empty for longer than 5 years and 63 for longer than 10 years.

Information relating to empty residential properties is exempt under Section 31(1)(a) (the prevention or detection of crime) and Section 40 (2) (personal data).

Section 40 (2) (Personal Data)
Information relating individuals has been exempted from release under section 40(2) of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as we consider this information to be third party personal information. Personal data is defined in the Data Protection Act 1998 as data which relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data, or from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller. Following the Tribunal’s decision in the case of England & L B of Bexley v Information Commissioner (EA/2006/0060 & 0066) (‘Bexley’), the
Tribunal’s decision was that the addresses of empty properties not owned by individuals should be released together with the names of those owners. It decided however that the information on individuals should be withheld. Following this lead, the Council considers that disclosing the addresses of properties will therefore be personal data even without the corresponding identification of the individuals. The Tribunal’s conclusion was that the addresses are personal data in the hands of the Council because the addresses are held with ownership details from the Council Tax register.

Section 31 (1) (a) (the prevention or detection of crime)
The information you have requested in respect of empty residential properties is exempt under Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, and is therefore being withheld.

Section 31 is a qualified exemption and therefore the “public interest test” was applied. The Council’s decision is that the release of the information into the public domain would be likely to prejudice the prevention of detection of crime. Whilst the
Council accepts there are indeed some advantages in the release of the information to the public at large, I am not satisfied that this outweighs the public interest in withholding the information for the following reasons:

· The risk that publication would prejudice the prevention of crime, as it could lead to the likely targeting of those empty properties by those engaged in vandalism, theft or other anti-social behaviour.

· The risk that publication would lead to increased anxiety and fear of crime amongst occupants or adjacent residential and commercial properties, as a result of the likely targeting of the empty properties by those engaged in criminal and
antisocial behaviour.

· The risk that publication could undermine efforts by the Council and commercial property owners to bring empty properties back into use, in order to improve local communities and reduce crime and vandalism in the area around empty
properties.

If you have any queries about this response, please do not hesitate to contact the Information Requests Team via email [Middlesbrough Council request email]. Please remember to quote the reference number shown above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled you may ask for an internal review within 40 days of receipt of the response. You should write to:-

Ann-Marie Johnstone
Governance and Information Manager
P.O. Box 500,
Civic Centre,
Middlesbrough.
TS1 9FT

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for an independent review. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: -

Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

Information Requests Team

Strategy, Information and Governance
P.O. Box 500
Civic Centre
Middlesbrough
TS1 9FT

Email:   [Middlesbrough Council request email]
 

All intellectual property rights are reserved.  Trademarks, brand names, company names, and logos are the property of Middlesbrough Council, or of their respective owners.  Reproduction, alterations, modification, distribution, or re-publication in any format, without prior written permission from the property owner is forbidden.

The Council's copyright and other intellectual property rights are protected by UK laws and by international treaties.

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Thank you for your response.

Is there anything you can provide that will help?

As with the authorities drive to increase the number of quality homes available for the community, surely this information can be used in a very positive manner to facilitate the renovation and release of hundreds of new, safe, quality homes to the market?

Yours sincerely,

Sam

foi, Middlesbrough Council

Thank you for contacting the Information Requests Team. If your email is
concerning a request for information, please treat this email as an
acknowledgment of your request. A response will be provided within 20
working days of receipt.

If you are requesting personal information about yourself (Subject Access
Request), a member of the team will contact you regarding making your
request live. Subject Access Requests are subject to a statutory 30
calendar day response period.

We are still dealing with information requests (Freedom of Information
(FOI) and Subject Access Requests) but we may take longer than normal to
respond. This is in line with advice from the Information Commissioner.

Regards
Information Requests Team

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foi, Middlesbrough Council

Dear Sam

Further to your email dated 24th April 2020, I can confirm that we have provided you with all information that can be released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled you may ask for an internal review within 40 days of receipt of the response. You should write to:-

Ann-Marie Johnstone
Governance and Information Manager
P.O. Box 500,
Civic Centre,
Middlesbrough.
TS1 9FT

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for an independent review. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: -

Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

Information Requests Team

Finance, Governance & Support
P.O. Box 500,
Civic Centre,
Middlesbrough.
TS1 9FT

Tel. 01642 729696

Email: [Middlesbrough Council request email]

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Sam please sign in and let everyone know.