Published: 00:01, 08 May 2018
A 63-year-old has found a new career - reporting empty homes to a property buying company.
Nick Payne has earned nearly £800 in Amazon and Marks and Spencer vouchers through his attempts to bring down the number of empty properties in the county. The Sittingbourne resident reports the buildings to YouSpotProperty.com, a company which rewards the public for tip-offs, and also gives them 1% of the purchase price if it goes on to buy the property.
To date, the semi-retired 63-year-old has reported 182 properties, making him the company's most active spotter.
He got into spotting properties for the company after reading a newspaper article about it. Having decreased the number of shifts he was doing in his customer service job for P&O Ferries, he noticed a derelict bungalow near his home, which he regularly walked past.
He said: "I thought it would cost me nothing to upload the details to upload the details of the bungalow, which I did, and to my surprise I received my M&S voucher pretty soon after. If I get an inkling a property might be in that state, I make it my business to report it. I even sometimes go on Google Street View when the weather is bad - then I don't have to leave home."
The company also makes charitable donations on behalf of spotters who are awarded the one per cent of the purchase price. Although Mr Payne is yet to qualify for this, the company has donated £250 to Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY). The charity raises awareness of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. This charity is close to the 63-year-old's heart because his son, Adam, died in 2004 aged just eight, from an inherited heart rhythm problem, Long QT Syndrome.
Nick Kalms, co-founder of YouSpotProperty.com, said: "There is no silver-bullet solution to addressing the UK's vast numbers of empty homes, but individuals like Nick Payne prove the importance of community involvement. There is a multitude of reasons why homes become derelict or empty, and the key to dealing with the crisis is understanding the issues why each individual property falls into that state - and to help the owners solve the problems."
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