Landlord speaks out over Burnley homes misery

23 Hobart Street, Burnley which has been burgled numerous times.
23 Hobart Street, Burnley which has been burgled numerous times.

A landlord who owns a number of houses in Burnley has said he is sick of the town after being the victim of repeated burglaries.

Mr Paul Woods, who owns properties in Cog Lane and Hobart Street, told the Express his insurers will no longer cover him for theft for any property with a BB postcode.

The worst day of my life was when I started pumping my money, and borrowed money, into Burnley

Landlord Paul Woods

Mr Woods (62) who lives in St Anne’s, said he believed drug addicts were behind most of the burglaries.

“I own property in Burnley, Accrington, Nelson, Blackpool, Manchester and St Anne’s. Burnley is by far the worst in terms of burglaries.

“I believe the majority of the burglaries are carried out by drug addicts wanting to feed their habit. I am at the end of my tether. So far in Burnley my properties have been totally burgled and ransacked about seven times.

“My insurers will no longer cover me for theft for any property with a BB postcode. There are two properties on Hobart Street which have been empty now for more than three years because I cannot afford to re-furbish them .

“About two weeks ago, another of my houses, in Cog Lane, was subject to a burglary which took the boiler, copper piping, kitchen worktops, electrical wiring from under the bedroom floor boards and the flag stone flooring.

“If I had known before I started to invest into the property market what I now know about Burnley I would not have invested a single cent. The worst day of my life was when I started pumping my money, and borrowed money, into Burnley.”

Mr Woods said Burnley Council could do more to help responsible landlords by installing alleygates and CCTV.

He also complained that changes to the way housing benefits are paid – whereby benefits are paid directly to the tenant rather than the landlord – have resulted in some tenants abusing the system.

He added: “Some tenants no longer think of a rental property as a home – they think of it as a cash cow, quite often because they are desperate to buy their next drug fix.

“They don’t pay the rent to the landlord for two months and then they skip to another property and do it all over again.”

Burnley Council defended itself against Mr Woods’ claims it was not doing enough for landlords.

A council spokesman said: “The landlord has a number of properties, some of which are in selective licensing areas, some aren’t. Properties in Cog Lane are in the Trinity licensing area. There has been significant investment in that area through face-lifting, acquiring and renovating empty homes, empty homes loans and alleygating.

“Selective Licensing addresses and improves the management practices and the condition of private rented properties. This improves the housing offer which in turn will help improve the unpopular perspective that residents have of these neighbourhoods.

“Empty properties and ASB have reduced in the Trinity selective licensing area. Officers have and continue to work with landlords to help them with any problems they are encountering.

“One offer is an interest free loan to bring their empty properties back into use; this is available in the Trinity area.

“As far as the rules around council tax are concerned, every local authority has the discretion to increase council tax for empty properties.

“The council decided to change its policy regarding council tax on empty houses in order to encourage landlord to get tenants in as quickly as possible. It’s in the landlord’s interest to gain income from a property and it also discourages theft and anti-social behaviour sometimes associated with empty properties. In Burnley an empty and unfurnished property has a 100% discount on council tax for up to two months after which the full charge is payable.

“It’s national policy to pay universal credit directly to the tenant who, in turn, should pay rent to their landlord.”

Regarding flytipping, the council said it welcomes any information that would lead to prosecutions.

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