Casey leads call for stronger controls against derelict buildings

Support was strong for the City of Casey’s motion calling for better controls to enable Councils to deal with derelict and dilapidated premises at the MAV State Council on Friday.

Endorsement was given by the Association to seek amendments to the Local Government Act for better controls that will empower Councils to deal with derelict residential and commercial properties, as well as non-responsive owners.

City of Casey Mayor Cr Amanda Stapledon who presented the motion to the MAV State Council said it was pleasing to see the support and backing of the motion, as this is an issue that impacts all municipalities.

“Derelict and dilapidated buildings create significant impacts on neighbourhood amenity and potential community safety issues when they are left by property owners and developers to fall into disrepair,” she said.

“Buildings in these states are not only a visual eyesore in the community, they can also be attractors for crime and anti-social behaviour, thereby impacting the real and perceived safety of local communities.”

Casey’s motion requested:

• That Councils be able to issue a warning to the owners of these properties to address the issues of abandonment and dereliction.

• Should owners fail to do so, Councils should be able to do the following; issue penalties commensurate with the community risk these properties pose; temporarily confiscate the properties and undertake the remedial work passing the full costs of these works, including officer time, on to the owners; and should reoffending occur, the same process as part 2 would apply, except that the penalties would continue to double on every occasion the reoffending occurs on the same property.

• The Minister be assured that every municipality in Victoria would like to maintain its neighbourhoods, safe and beautiful for the enjoyment of all Victorians, and unless the legislation is strengthened to facilitate this, then this horrendous problem of derelict properties and uncaring owners will never be addressed.

“In situations where buildings have become dilapidated Council’s enforcement options are limited. In all cases we prefer to work with the landowner to resolve the concerns that have been raised but, in some instances, this doesn’t eventuate,” said the Mayor.

“It is a source of frustration for us when we have buildings that are dilapidated within our municipality that are being held for redevelopment. We have no controls from a planning perspective to hold owners accountable for cleaning up their sites and the penalties we can issue under our Community Local Law often do little to enforce compliance.

“We are suggesting that the penalties available under the Local Government Act, which range from a few hundred dollars up to a maximum of $2,000, warrant review. Particularly when the commercial value of the property can involve some millions of dollars.

“The challenges that Council recently faced in relation to the state of the Hampton Park Food Market has been well publicised. Our inability to force the owner to undertake works to resolve safety and amenity issues (as expected by our community) has since prompted Council to seek these amendments to the current legislation.

“By raising this motion, we are hoping to find a way of making it a disincentive for these circumstances to arise in the future.”

/Public Release. View in full here.