The council must, by law, review the housing conditions in its area from time to time. As a result, properties may be identified which have outlived their useful life or have been abandoned. Many of these houses will be unfit for habitation.
The council then has to decide on the best course of action to deal with the properties and this may be by including them in a clearance area and subsequently demolishing them.
Regular reviews of housing conditions will highlight properties that are suffering from high levels of unfitness and vacancy. The council must first decide to include properties in principle in clearance areas, based on the estimated levels of unfitness. In order to seek a council decision to do this, a report must be produced and the recommendation agreed by the council's Executive Committee. The council must then carry out a detailed internal and external inspection of all the houses it proposes to include in clearance. Following the survey of the houses, the council will be able to decide whether, in its opinion, the houses are unfit for habitation and whether or not the best way of dealing with the unfit houses is by their demolition. Following the decision to include the properties in proposed clearance areas the council must carry out formal consultation of all owners.
The council must consult with all persons who have a legal interest in the unfit properties. These may be owner-occupiers, landlords, financial institutions e.g. banks, building societies.
An advertisement will be placed in the local press indicating that the council intends to include the houses in clearance areas.
In addition, the council also sends a formal notice to all interested parties of the unfit houses, inviting them to submit any comments they have or make representations to the council within 28 days of receiving the notice. There is also an assessment of the future housing requirements of those that would be displaced by clearance so that their housing needs can be accommodated.
Owners of properties that are fit for habitation will not receive a formal notice and their properties will not appear in the press advertisement. They will however, receive a letter asking them for their comments on the clearance proposal within 28 days as their properties will be included in the compulsory purchase order as added lands.
All tenants will also be consulted on the proposal and their views will also be taken into account.
Housing Improvement (Private Sector) Team
Level 6, Alexandra House
10 Station Road
Tel 020 8489 5504