Empty Homes in national and local spotlight

November 26, 2015 by Southend Borough Council

Empty Homes in national and local spotlight

Wednesday 25th November 2015

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is backing a national campaign that aims to raise awareness around the issue of long-term empty homes.

National Empty Homes week runs from Monday 30th November to Friday 4th December and during this week the council will be highlighting the need for long term empty homes (over two years) to be brought back into use. Members of the private sector housing (PSH) team will be training other council staff and the issue of empty homes will be promoted at The Forum. Members of the public will also be encouraged to report empty homes through the council’s website, and the campaign will be promoted via the council’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

There are a number of reasons why these properties are classified as empty, including:

For sale or sold and awaiting occupation by new occupiers,
In the process of being renovated,
The owner is dead,
Properties where the owner is not present (in hospital or in care)
Properties that had been inherited by a third party, or,
Where the condition of the property is such as to prompt the owner to live elsewhere.

If left empty for a long period of time, in some cases a number of years, these properties begin to have a negative impact on the community, ranging from overgrown gardens through to disrepair that, in turn, impacts on neighbouring properties.

Since 2009 the Council has used a variety of Enforcement Powers to bring properties back into use should discussions with the owner not prove successful. This has ranged from Empty Dwelling Management Orders, the threat of Compulsory Purchase to carrying out works and repairs directly in default and the recovery of those costs from the absent owner.

Cllr David Norman, Executive Councillor for Housing, says: “Long term empty properties are a source of complaint and concern, increase the perception of anti social behaviour and can often blight an area and devalue neighbouring properties. In a time when more and more people are finding it hard to find local housing, it is vital that the council does all it can to address this issue.

“We have, for over 15 years worked with property owners to try and bring properties that are vacant back into occupation. It is only as a last resort that the Council will take enforcement action against the owner. Southend was the first and, to date, remains the only Council to use Empty Dwelling Management Orders which are part of the Housing Act 2004.

"In the last 3 months alone, I am delighted to say that officers from Private Sector Housing have brought 21 properties back into use through cooperation with the owner.”

If anyone wishes to report an empty home they may do so by calling 01702 215000 or visiting: http://www.southend.gov.uk/report_it

An empty homes case study is available by emailing: adamkeating@southend.gov.uk


Note: If comment section is not showing please log in to Facebook in another browser tab and refresh.