Not my Castle anymore
The government came under fierce attack yesterday after quietly bringing in measures to give councils the power to seize the homes of the dead from bereaved families.
Ministers were also accused of "burying bad news" by publishing details of the rules while the nation's eyes were trained on the World Cup.
The measures, released by Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, on Friday afternoon, give local authorities the power to confiscate homes that have been vacant for six months and rent them out to the homeless.
From next month councils will be able to break into, alter or refurbish the properties and let them out to tenants of their choice for up to seven years.
Robert Whelan, of the think-tank Civitas, said the "outrageous" confiscation of property ran "right against the ancient common-law principle of private property, which is as fundamental as habeas corpus.
"The right to private property is the Englishman's right to his castle". Labour was "behaving more like a dictatorship than a democratic government", he said.
Yvette Cooper, the housing and planning minister, said, however, that it was an outrage that empty properties were not being used to tackle housing shortages.
Her "outrage" versus the fundemental rights of free born people everywhere - I know which one I back!
I don't think I know a family which has inherited a family home which has settled all the scores and actually sold a house within six months. I blogged about this back in March and included this material from the Government...
The Housing Act 2004 contains provisions about the occupation of privately owned empty homes. The device for securing occupation of empty homes is known as an Empty Dwelling Management Order. Once the legislation has been commenced, an Empty Dwelling Management Order would enable a Local Housing Authority, in certain circumstances, to take management control of a dwelling in order to secure occupation of it. The legislation is intended to operate alongside existing procedures for securing occupation of empty homes..... When an EDMO is in force, the LHA takes over most of the rights and responsibilities of the relevant proprietor and may exercise them as if it were the relevant proprietor. A relevant proprietor is not entitled to receive any rent or other payments from anyone occupying the dwelling and may not exercise any rights to manage the dwelling whilst an EDMO is in force.