A local councillor has called for a register of private landlords to be set up to crackdown on vacant properties in the city.
Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue made the call after Brandywell resident and well known community worker, Róisín Barton, raised concerns about a vacant property next to her home on Brandywell Road.
Ms Barton said the property has been vacant for more than six months and has been targeted by vandals. “It has been left to go to rack and ruin. The windows have been smashed and the young people have been congregating there. It has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour.
“My fear is that a child could be injured on the broken glass trying to get into the house. The biggest danger at the moment is that someone will get in there and start a fire which could spread to my home,” she said.
The Brandywell resident called on the owner of the property to secure it. “As far as I know the landlord has not been out to the house in months. Landlords have a responsibility to other residents living near their properties and I would urge him to secure this house,” he said.
Colr. Logue echoed the call and called on all private landlords to act responsibly.
“Residents living next to vacant houses should not have to put up with this. Derry City Council are aware of this particular case and steps are currently being taken to address the problem.
“More generally, this situation is being repeated across the city with properties laying vacant and creating problems for local residents. Vacant properties can become sites of anti-social behaviour and can attract vermin which creates health hazards.
“Difficulties often arise when trying to find who owns these properties and it can take a while to track down the owners and contact them. I am calling for a directory to be set up so that those that need to can identify the owners of these properties and get in touch with them to ensure they live up to their responsibilities,” she said.
Colr. Logue also said the task of securing properties often falls to Council, resulting in additional costs. “Council can secure these properties but it costs up to £2,000 and it should be the owners of the property who pay for this, not the ratepayers,” she said.