Lazy landowners issued letters

Fourteen sites across the Latrobe Valley have become the first targets of Latrobe City Council’s beefed-up dilapidated building law designed to crack down on eyesores.

Under the new rules, owners or occupiers face fines of more than $3000 for allowing vacant buildings to deteriorate to a dilapidated state.

Council did not reveal exactly which sites it had identified under the amendment to Local Law 2, but said it had sent out 14 advisory letters and three directional notices to property-owners.

“It gives council the (power) to make sure ratepayer expectations are being met and we’re not disadvantaging ratepayers who have these buildings next door,” Mayor Dale Harriman said.

“It’s going to force those who are land banking to maintain their blocks to an acceptable level in the community.”

The amendment was approved in June and requires property-owners to take all reasonable steps to secure the building from trespassers; undertake temporary repairs; prevent it from being a haven for anti-social behaviour and remove graffiti.

If they fail to carry out these changes, they will be committing a new offence every month their breach continues.

Latrobe City general manager community liveability Sara Rhodes Ward said council was currently undertaking a three-month community information program to outline the new provisions to property owners and encourage them to meet the new local law requirements.

Make Moe Glow member Marilyn May, whose group works on targeted small-scale projects to beautify the town, said the amended law would hold landowners to account.

“I think it should have happened a long time ago,” Ms May said.

“These people who come from outside and buy these properties and let them stand derelict for years on end should be held accountable.”

Traralgon Community Development Association vice president Bronwyn McGennisken said she hoped the new rules would be enforced by council.

“Properties should definitely be maintained to a safe standard and the whole eyesore aspect degrades neighbourhoods,” Ms McGennisken said.

Advance Morwell president John Guy said the group had been in talks with council about particular sites and he hoped to see a test case to gauge the new law’s effectiveness.