EDMOs, a remarkable power given to local authorities under Housing Act 2004 to take control of an abandoned or unused residential property and let it (and charge the owner for most of the related costs of doing so), have been used remarkably rarely – I am informed some 29 decisions on orders have been made in the RPT in England since the Act came into force.
Which raises a question or two over the threatened thirtieth order. Married Labour MPs Alan and Anne Keen, who were exposed in the Telegraph expenses porn spreads as both claiming for their joint second home – a flat in Waterloo – to the tune of £30,000 a year for the last four years, are facing a threatened EDMO on their property in Brentford. The Conservative controlled council are threatening an order on the basis that the property has remained unoccupied for 7 months. A Liberal Democrat councillor (and prospective Lib Dem candidate for MP for one of the Keen’s constituencies. I’m not saying which), Andrew Dakers observed:
that the windows at the back of the Keens’s main home were boarded up and that there was paint splashed on the inside of the upstairs windows.
which brings up worrying images of someone’s Lib Dem Counciillor hanging around the back alley (do they have back alleys in Hounslow?) peering in through the windows. People get arrested for less.
Between starting this post and writing this bit, the Keens have responded that the property was not unoccupied, just being renovated (those paint marks and all) – the BBC story has been updated – but apparently will still need to make a formal response to Hounslow Council.
Is it just me, or does this story make all concerned look more than somewhat ridiculous? EDMOs are not used, despite their real potential utility. How many EDMOs has Hounslow sought before this, one wonders – and as far as my cursory searching told me, the answer was none, but I have been corrected – there were two in 2008.
Given that the property has only been allegedly unoccupied for seven months, was apparently known to be the MP’s, and has councillors personally commenting on the state of its rear windows, that it seem be cynical publicity seeking on the part of the Tory Council and on the part of Mr ‘hiding in the shrubbery’ Dakers, the prospective Lib Dem MP, while the Keens are hardly covered in expenses glory on their two homes arrangements. Lovely.
For any Local Authority people reading this, we are genuinely curious as to why EDMOs aren’t used more often. Why not? Do let us know in the comments or in private email.
Update: The property has been squatted by a group apparently intending to make it a ‘refugee centre’. (Thanks Jim). I think this ends the EDMO, as the property has to be unoccupied – lawfully or otherwise – for it to go ahead. But I guess the Keens have other more pressing problems…