An Englishman's castle and his Laura Ashley curtains are belong to us
Local councils will have power to seize furniture and fixtures and fittings when they take over empty homes according to new rules published by the Government yesterday.
Town halls have been given the authority to take over and rent out homes which have been standing empty for more than six months.
possess furniture, fixtures and fittings when a home was seized, even in cases where a property was taken over because the owner was dead.
The Government admitted that the purpose of the new laws was to provide "a credible threat" and was intended to put pressure on the owner. Yet empty public sector properties were unaffected and exempt from the new powers. Under the Orders a private home could be seized for up to seven years, 28 days after an Order was granted - and with no right of appeal.
A home did not have to be blighted, boarded up or uninhabitable to be seized, merely empty for six months, including homes of the recently deceased.
Homes for sale could be seized if a council thought the asking price "unrealistic".
Councils would have forcible powers of entry once an Order was made and people could be taken to court and charged with a criminal offence if they obstructed officials.
Once seized, there was no obligation to obtain a market rent, and social tenants could be housed in the property. The owner could even be charged and billed for their property being seized, if service or standing charges were greater than the rent, after the council deducted its "expenses".
"Prescott's parting gift" gets worse the more it is examined. And I repeat the biggest cause of empty house is the local authority messing about with planning applications. Your dear old mum dies and you want move into her house but it really need updating. A month or so to sort out the will if you are lucky, a month or so to get some plans drawn up and then the council objects to your plans. Six months is approaching you want to go to appeal and someone from the council drops a hint about "a credible threat". What are you going to do? Carry on trying to improve your property in the way you want to and risk losing your house to the Asbo family or cave in to some hairy planner's idea of what a socially just and renewable scheme would be?
Of course like the Duke of Westminster I left the Tory party when they passed the 1993 Leasehold Reform Act which started this trend of state seizures - I haven't rejoined and until they start being a bit more robust in defence of the rights of property, amongst other niggles, i won't.