The judge in the case stated that it was in the public interest to release the information and added that there was strong public interest in bringing empty property back into use.
But while Landlord Assist is fully supportive of measures to bring empty properties back into use to support regeneration programmes, its Managing Director Graham Kinnear is concerned that they could become a growing target for squatters and warns of an increase in squatters if other councils are forced to make similar disclosures.
He says: "Bringing empty homes back into use would be a welcome initiative if they were used by councils to support the housing needs of vulnerable people, those on modest incomes, first time buyers and retired citizens. However, publishing a list of empty properties at the request of the Advisory Service for Squatters is simply an advert for squatters.
“It beggars belief that councils should be forced to hand over a list of empty properties. If other councils across the UK are forced to follow suit, inevitably the number of squatters will rise and this could lead to an increase in vandalism and criminal behaviour.”
Stephen Parry, Commercial Director at Landlord Assist says: “At Landlord Assist we regularly deal with many cases of squatters where landlords have had to go through the courts to retrieve their property and where neighbours have complained about anti-social behaviour, levels of noise and overcrowding.
“What squatters fail to understand is that their actions affect everyday people who can ill afford to go through the emotional and financial strain of recovering their property.”
The Government is currently consulting on making squatting a criminal offence as a result of high profile cases where multi-million pound homes in London have been occupied without the consent of their owners.
The situation is very different in Scotland where squatting is a criminal offence.
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