Residential properties (FOI-547)
I make this request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Please would you provide me with a list of all the residential properties
owned by Hackney Council; If possible a sub category of those properties
which are vacant and those which are occupied.
Thanking for your co operation.
Re: Your Freedom of Information Request.
Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request received on 18 July 2018. We apologise for the late response to this request.
You requested information on the following:
Please would you provide me with a list of all the residential properties owned by Hackney Council; If possible a sub category of those properties which are vacant and those which are occupied.
I can confirm that we do hold this information, however, we are unable to provide the data which you have requested as some of it falls within the scope of the exemption found at section 40 of the FOI Act, concerning personal information. In addition, the Information Commissioner has advised against providing household information in The Code of Practice on Anonymisation:
We have also had concerns expressed by residents about use of their address data for mailing lists. While there is no suggestion that this is the purpose of your request, once received the data will be accessible publicly and may be used by others for this purpose.
In addition to this, we are unable to provide a list of properties that are vacant as this is exempt under section 31(1) (a) ‘Law enforcement’, of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which states:
Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 31 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
We have applied Section 31 (1) (a) to your request because of the risk of increased crime that would likely occur if a list of empty properties was released to the wider public under a freedom of information request. We consider that the public disclosure of the requested information would likely increase the risk to empty properties of illegal entry and illegal use if entered.
Empty properties are often associated with criminal activity from organised local gangs and whilst squatting itself is not an offence, it is associated with criminal activity. Disclosure of the list would be of use to squatters and would, on a balance of probability, lead to significant harm in the form of criminal activity such as vandalism. It is also likely that organised gangs will use the information for criminal purposes. Further, such properties may be exposed to a greater risk of arson or criminal damage, which if carried out may endanger other persons in neighbouring properties.
The Information Tribunal decision which related to a request for list of empty properties within the London Borough of Bexley ruled that the Council in this case was not required to disclose the addresses of empty properties within the borough where they are owned by individuals.
The Tribunal found that disclosure of such a list would be likely to have a significant negative impact on the prevention of crime. Their conclusion was that the information is exempt under section 31(1) (a) of the Act on the basis that disclosure of a list of empty and uninhabitable properties would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
We accept that there is some public interest in knowing how local properties are used and occupied and that such information may be useful for a variety of purposes including, for example, demographic research. We also understand the pressing issue of bringing empty properties back into use where this is possible. However on balance, we consider that there is a greater public interest in the withholding of the information due to the safety considerations of the public.
If you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to appeal, please respond to this email to request an Internal Review.
If you are still not satisfied following the Internal Review, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner.
Information Commissioner"s Office
0303 123 1113
London Borough of Hackney