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Resident of Conduit Road in Stamford urges South Kesteven District Council to take action over empty property

A woman has described the “absolute hell” of living next door to an abandoned house for more than a decade.

Michelle Wills has spent years begging the council to take action over the empty property in Conduit Road, Stamford.

Broken guttering caused an extensive damp problem in Michelle’s home and she fears the boarded up property is a magnet for trouble. She has already reported attempted break-ins to the police on several occasions and worries the building will attract rats.

The council boarded up the property
The council boarded up the property

Michelle said: "It's absolute hell living next door and I'm at breaking point. It's a blot on the landscape but my biggest worry is what will happen if someone breaks in.

“I want the council to go in there, see what's going on and force a sale.”

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Michelle has regularly complained to South Kesteven District Council. She leaves messages with the housing team every two weeks but hasn’t had a response since July.

Broken guttering caused a problem with damp in Michelle's home
Broken guttering caused a problem with damp in Michelle's home

The council did previously step in to board up the property and repair the broken guttering. The cost was eventually repaid by the owner of the privately-owned house after the council tried to sell it at auction.

Councillor Phil Dilks (Ind) who is responsible for housing and planning at South Kesteven District Council, said: “In this case, because SKDC was owed money for work done following a complaint from a neighbour, the council took steps to conduct an enforced sale. However, the debt was paid so this way forward was not pursued.”

Mr Dilks added that there is no other action the council can take at this time.

He said: “While we have every sympathy with anyone affected by a neighbouring property being empty, action is limited in regard to what a council can do in forcing it back into use. There is no obligation on an owner to ensure the property is occupied or, if they are not able to occupy the property themselves, to rent out or sell the property.

The empty property in Conduit Road, Stamford
The empty property in Conduit Road, Stamford

“Councils can intervene following a complaint about an issue such as vermin, disrepair affecting a neighbour, planning or environmental health matters – and take action to resolve this. Issues such as refuse on land may be subject to action, depending on the case.

“The cost of any work done by the local authority would be charged back to the owner, so that the burden does not fall on the taxpayer. We can secure an open property, for instance, but would still recharge to the owner.

“Another action available is to apply for a compulsory purchase order, which involves a request to the secretary of state. This is usually a last resort and is correctly deemed as not appropriate in this instance.

“We continue to respond to complaints and take action where appropriate and where legislation allows.”

South Kesteven District Council cabinet member for housing and planning Phil Dilks
South Kesteven District Council cabinet member for housing and planning Phil Dilks

Michelle said she is stunned by the council’s response.

She added: “I’m absolutely astounded and flabbergasted. They are contradicting themselves by saying there is nothing they can do but going on to say they can intervene if a house is in disrepair.

“I'm at my wit's end and don't know what else to do.”

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