Thursday, April 06, 2006

Great Engine But No Spark Plugs

Today sees the introduction of Empty Dwellings Management Orders, well sort of. All of the powers relating to EDMOs in the Housing act have been enabled today except one (section134). Does this little section make any difference? You bet it does. Section 134 gives Residential Property Tribunals the power to issue interim EDMOs. Without it none of the rest of the EDMO powers are useable. It feels a bit like being given a petrol engine with no spark plugs.

So have we been duped? No not really. The spark plugs (Section 134) will be fitted on July 6, bringing all the powers into use. The thinking behind the delay has some merit. EDMOs can only been issued on homes that have been empty for 6 months or more. With the spark plugs fitted a local authority could have turned up at the Residential Property Tribunal this morning and applied for an EDMO on a property that only became empty last October. The property owner could quite reasonably claim that he had no knowledge of the new legislation and it’s all horribly unfair. The next three months give an introductory period so that when Residential Property Tribunals are able to issue orders, the property owners will in theory had at least 3 months exposure to them.

Of course there is always one smart Alec and one maverick idea that I have heard floated is this: With no authorisation for EDMOs possible until July local authorities might go ahead and issue EDMOs themselves. Well try driving a car with no spark plugs in the engine. It won’t work, and neither will this idea. We’ve waited for five years; another three months won’t do any harm.

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