A successful National Empty Homes Week draws to an end

Posted: 30/11/2012

It has been the National Empty Homes Week starting on the 25th November and as it draws to a end, Greater Manchester Councils and Liverpool City Council are helping the Empty Homes Charity in their mission to return derelict properties into family homes.

In the past year there has been a 10,276 reduction of empty homes across the country meaning the total number of abandoned properties currently stands at 710,140 and the number of long term empty properties have also reduced around 7% making the total 259,842.

However, it seems that the North West of England suffers the most with the empty properties with 9 out of 10 areas having the highest levels of vacant properties in the region. This is why the Empty Homes Charity needed a boost to start work on the area and thankfully the councils of Manchester and Liverpool City Council have stepped in to give them a helping hand.

When leaving a home empty it can be very costly to the owners as the overall estimated loss incurred when leaving a property is around £8,000 a year from lost rent, taxes, insurance and many more related charges. Costs could also come from damage caused by vandalism which is a situation that occurs regularly when houses are left empty.

Empty property officers across the ten local authorities of Greater Manchester are working on getting the areas empty homes back into occupation with a range of measures including; offering advice and guidance, help find tenants for landlords, offer financial support for renovations and giving advice on how to let properties.

Local authorities also have a range of enforcement powers to deal with community damage and poor housing conditions including a compulsory purchase order on privately owned empty houses as a last resort to return them to full occupation.

Liverpool City Council have contacted the owners of 1,000 vacant houses to try and encourage them to refurbish their properties so they can be rented out to families who are in desperate need of housing. The housing officers are going to provide support as similar to those in Manchester are aim to tackle all 16,000 empty properties in the Liverpool area especially where some streets are completely boarded up through successive council administrations.

Liverpool City Council aim to deliver 5,000 new and refurbished homes for the city by 2016 and the council have also published pledges on landlord issues such as;

1. Adoption of minimum standards for private rented housing
2. Landlord accreditation scheme to recognise good landlords
3. free voluntary register for landlords which is aimed to encourage better communications with the council
4. Incentives will be offered to landlords who manage their properties well including access to renewal funding.
5. A dedicated website will be built for landlords and tenants as well as a confidential Freeh phone line where people can report unregistered or poor landlords.
6. A Landlords Advisory Ground made up of landlords, letting and managing agents as well as a Rogue Landlords Hit Squad which will find and investigate poor landlord and take appropriate action.

Liverpool was awarded £13.5 million by Clusters of Empty Homes funding last May which will bring over 700 empty homes back into use including the Welsh Streets and the Anfield area.

The assistant mayor for housing at Salford City Council, Gena Merrett commented on her areas improvement, ‘Salford is the fifth most improved council in the country for reducing the number of empty homes across the city. ‘At a time when councils are receiving increased homelessness applications, we want to encourage the owners of long term empty properties to return them back into occupation.’

What do you think about the work the Empty Homes Charity and the North West Councils are doing to tackle their vacant properties?

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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(0) Comments manchester, regeneration, homes, property, council

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