ADDRESSES of empty properties in the Royal Borough and the home addresses of the people who own them have been shared online by the council.

The council provided the information of more than 500 homes and their owners to a property management company in response to a freedom of information request, which can now be viewed online.

Dr Moshe Hanlon found out his relative's information had been shared when they received a letter from the company in regards to their home in the Clewer Hill Road area of Windsor.

He said: "They were horrified, thinking that somebody has somehow managed to get hold of private information is a great concern.

"In this case it was made very public, it's available to everybody, not just the person who asked for it which would be bad enough."

The council's website issues information on the data protection act and states that one of the reasons it exists is 'to prevent processing for the purposes of direct marketing'.

A council spokeswoman said: "The information commissioner issued a decision notice against Bexley Council on July 25, 2006 not upholding that council’s position to withhold the empty homes information. The decision also stated that home ownership information was readily accessible.

"There has since been a government initiative to bring empty properties back into use because of the public interest and pressure on housing availability. Releasing one part but not the other to the requester could be considered unhelpful and as obstructing the wider public interest."

The letter Dr Hanlon's relative received said that the company had noticed the property was empty when passing but through searching the internet he soon found out how they found He said: "The property is in a gated community that you cannot drive past and you wouldn't be able to tell it was empty.

"They haven't been truthful at all."

A spreadsheet of 508 empty properties across the Royal Borough is now available for anyone to view online on the freedom of information website 'whatdotheyknow.com'.

Dr Hanlon added: "From the point of view of someone as a burglar it gives them a Christmas list of places to go and search.

"I would ask the council to write to everybody who is affected and let them know this is happening. They cannot just take it off the web and hope everything is okay."

Slough Borough Council received the same request from the company and refused to disclose the addresses and names of the owners.

A number of reasons were given for this and the council's response said: "The council are unable to provide you with landlord details as this is considered personal data which is exempt under S40 (2) of the Freedom of information act."

Dr Hanlon has made a complaint to the Royal Borough and the information commissioner's office.