NEIGHBOURS have called on Southend Council to act against an empty home that is blighting their area and affecting property prices.

Residents living near a run-down, three-bedroom property, in Ilfracombe Road, Southend, say it is attracting rats and foxes.

Southend Council has recently taken on two properties using an empty dwelling management order.

One of them, in Wenham Drive, Westcliff, is back in use after being given an overhaul.

Now residents in other areas are urging the council to use the order to bring more empty homes back to life.

Rosie and Cliff Stone have lived next door to the run-down home in Ilfracombe Road for 15 years.

Mrs Stone, 51, said: “We knew the previous occupier, an elderly lady, before she died in 1995.

“The house has been left empty ever since. According to the council, her will was never taken to probate, so it has been left vacant.

“There are little niggles about it. The garden is a mess, though my husband and a neighbour try to keep the weeds down.

“There was water running down the back of the house, which caused immense concern to us about damp.

“Foxes and rats are also attracted to the garden, where some rubbish has been dumped, and pigeons were nesting in the loft.

“The longer it falls into disrepair, then our homes are devalued by it. I wish the council would take it on, rather than give us reasons why it hasn’t.

“It could have been rented all this time to a family.”

Neighbours have stuck down the letterbox to try to stop junk mail piling up, and they paid for a keypad-controlled gate to be installed, as the side of the grounds of the house was open and leads to the back of the other terraced properties.

Simon Leftley, Southend Council’s corporate director for housing, said: “The council is very much aware of the property.

“There is a legal reason why enforcement action has not yet been taken.

“However, we are busy pursuing all other possible avenues to try to bring this property back into use.”

The council has obtained an empty dwelling management order on a house in Marine Parade, Leigh, which is believed to have been empty for 15 years.

Residents said they were relieved action had finally been taken on the home. Council workers have visited the property to assess what work is needed.