A DILAPIDATED property in Douglas has lain empty and uncared for, for at least 20 years neighbours have said.
The end terraced house is not hard to spot with its overgrown hedges, unpruned trees and unkempt garden.
A closer look at the house at the top of Woodbourne Road reveals missing slates, peeling paintwork and some sizeable cracks in the walls. It stands out all the more among the Victorian terraces which neighbours say form part of the Douglas conservation area. Jim MacGregor whose house is part of the same terrace said the property had been neglected for years. He contacted the Manx Independent in exasperation to highlight the problems the house was causing in his neighbourhood.
‘We’ve lived here 11 years and we have a neighbour who has been here 22 years who says it was like it before he moved in,’ he said.
Like many such houses it has proved a magnet for undesirables and Mr MacGregor said the police had been called out on a number of occasions to deal with youths hanging around.
He cites break-ins, pigeons roosting and damp among the litany of problems to have affected the property over the years.
He added he had recently spoken to the borough engineers carrying out an inspection at the house.
‘The chap said he had been asked to check the property every six months. He said the crack on the corner section had opened up but it was not structurally dangerous.’
But Mr MacGregor said his more immediate concern was the slates falling from the roof and embedding themselves in the ground, particularly as his children play in his garden close by.
Douglas East MHK Brenda Cannell, whom Mr MacGregor contacted about the property, said Douglas Corporation had the power to issue an enforcement notice to carry out remedial work by a certain date but this did not fall within the government’s remit. She said she had contacted the council on his behalf.
‘I can’t remember anyone living there, certainly not since 1991 so it’s a long, long time,’ she said.
‘Rates still have to be paid so the council will know who the owner is but I’m told there is not a structural problem with it.’
The council’s building control manager Nick Kaighin said such properties were monitored on a regular basis by the council but they preferred to adopt a persuasive rather than a confrontational approach.
He said in the case of a dilapidated property the council could issue a notice to complete specified repairs by a given date. If this was not complied with they could take court action with criminal sanctions.
Generally he said they found an informal approach worked but in a few cases issues remained for a number of years with owners doing the minimum amount of work possible.
‘A permanent solution is not always easy to achieve,’ he said.
In the case of a property which is dangerous as opposed to just unsightly, he said the council would apply for an immediate court order to rectify the problem and make it safe but the process was slower if concerns related more to aesthetic appearance.
• There are a number of similar properties in the island. Do you live near one that’s causing you concern? Do you think more should be done to force the owners to look after them? Email us at newsdesk(at)newsiom.co.im.
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