2k empty homes across NW and 150 where owner is unknown

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Over 800 residential properties in Londonderry were listed as vacant at the start of last month whilst 69 potential homes in the city had no known owner, the Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has revealed.

According to the Minister 868 residential properties located in the city were lying empty at November 30, 2014.

In neighbouring Strabane there were 614 empty properties and in Limavady there were 511, bringing a grand total across the wider North West of 1,993.

Meanwhile, Mr Hamilton has also confirmed that the ownership of 69 rateable residential properties in Londonderry was unknown at the end of last November.

In Strabane there were 45 such residential properties and in Limavady there were 40.

This brought to 154 the total number of properties in the North West, where the ratepayer was unknown.

Releasing the data in response to an Assembly Question tabled by Green MLA Steven Agnew, Mr Hamilton explained that whilst Land and Property Services (LPS) has checked the rate liability of all vacant properties the figures above may not be complete as there is no obligation on landowners to tell the state agency that there is no-one living in their properties.

“Since the introduction of the Rating of Empty Homes legislation on October 1, 2011, the rate liability for vacant domestic properties has been assessed at 100 per cent,” Mr Hamilton explained.

“There is currently no requirement for ratepayers to inform Land and Property Services that their property is vacant, nor is there any financial advantage to doing so. As such, current information on the number of empty domestic properties may not be complete,” he added.

Empty property rates are payable on all domestic properties with a rateable capital value of £20,000 or more and are generally the same as when properties are occupied although some exclusions apply.