Number of long-term empty homes down 35%
Commenting on the Empty Homes Update to the Housing Committee that shows the number of homes empty for over five years has decreased by 35% since 2014, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Councillor Dean Crofts said "This update is very encouraging. It shows that the programme has been a big success and as a council, we have brought wasted resources and space back into use. This means buildings that may have previously attracted anti-social behaviour are now being restored back into our communities for people to live in."
Some of the buildings have been bought by the council and restored into temporary accommodation for vulnerable people, fulfilling another key objective of the Empty Homes Strategy.
Councillor Crofts confirmed "Bringing properties back into use helps with the number of houses available for let in the Borough, helps towards the lack of homes in the current housing crisis, creates happier and healthier communities, safer communities, more resilient communities and creates economic regeneration in an area which may have been neglected. We now need the government to be serious about tackling the housing crisis and allow local councils to go further, via legislation, so that we can target homes that have been empty for 2-5 years as successfully as we have with homes empty for over 5 years".
Councillor Crofts continued "The success of the strategy is due to the decisive and strong action by council officers in working with landlords to get their properties back into use. The council have also established the Council Tax Premium charge on long-term empty homes to encourage restoration and occupancy. I am delighted with the council's decision to accelerate the good work further by raising this charge by a further 100%, so that the charge is 400% of the standard Council Tax rate for properties empty for longer than 10 years."