Glasgow City Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to use tough legislation to force so-called ‘slum landlords’ to give up their properties.
The city is using compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to take over seven flats in one block in the Govanhill area.
Now the chief of Scottish councils has called on other areas to toughen up their stance for the sake of ‘social wellbeing’.
Alison Evison, president of the Council of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), told The Big Issue: “We are pleased to see that the law is being used to clear some of the worst housing practice and to improve the circumstances of some of the poorest communities.
“Wherever a council believes that the local circumstances merit it, this power should be used to promote community wellbeing.”
The special powers used in the Glasgow neighbourhood are not currently available in every area. Govanhill has been designated as an enhanced enforcement area (EEA) which gives officials tougher powers.
A series of raids under the new EEA powers uncovered squalor including dangerous electrics, broken toilets, no hot water and infestations of rodents.
The Scottish Government has set aside up to £48million to seize control of poorly managed homes in Govanhill. The area falls within the parliamentary constituency of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
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If the initiative is successful more local authorities could implement the scheme.
Despite concerns the properties could be used to gentrify the Southside area, the flats which have been reclaimed are earmarked for social housing.
Housing campaigners have warned that if the so-called slum properties are not wrested out of the control of rogue landlords then they may fall into disrepair and ultimately be demolished. The loss of stock when so many people are waiting for a home could further the housing crisis.
Enforcement action can be triggered when landlords do not comply with the local authority, for instance failing to provide documents like gas safety certificates.
Council officers can also use the EEA powers to compel landlords to undergo criminal checks.