Our top news story

Over 700 squatters arrested since criminalisation in 2012

According to a recent story on Orbis's website, 700 squatters have been arrested since squatting of residential properties was criminalised in September 2012.

The story claims that 148 arrests were made in 2015, bringing the overall total up to 736 since the provisions of the Act went live.The story notes that many of those charged were also charged with other offences.

For further details, refer to the full story here. The source of the information is not stated.



Gavin Barwell is new Housing and Planning Minister

Gavin Barwell, M.P. for Croydon Central, is to replace Brandon Lewis as the Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government. He is also to be Minister for London.

Barwell became an M.P. in 2010 and has previously been a junior member of the government, including as Parliamentary Private Secretary for Greg Clark.  Greg Clark has also moved on, to be replaced as Communities Secretary by Savid Javid.

There is not much information about Barwell's views on housing, and specifically empty homes. A 2014 Vision for Croydon document jointly published by the three Croydon Conservative MPs has a short section on Empty Homes which reads as follows.

Bring empty homes back into use
There are too many homes in Croydon sitting empty. Not only are they often a blight on their local neighbourhoods, they could be housing a family currently in overcrowded or otherwise unsuitable accommodation. We’d like to see the Council use its compulsory purchase powers to buy them and sell them on to local families.

Research shows the way for conversions

Research funded by the Nationwide Foundation and conducted by a team from Empty Homes [Agency] makes a strong case for delivering affordable housing through conversions of empty commercial spaces.

The research report has two great strengths. The first is that if offers a clear, succinct, but nevertheless comprehensive overview of the whole field of converting empty commercial property to housing, which does not shirk from addressing some of the issues that can arise. The second is that it contains a rich sample of case studies, featuring a wide range of partners, buildings, property markets and geographical locations.

The report is clear about the desirability of avoiding conversions where the commercial space still has a useful economic life ahead of it. It cannot be held responsible for those cases where there is a loss of employment opportunities thanks to the introduction by the government of an unduly relaxed planning regime for commercial space (which also undermines the delivery of affordable housing).

Latest News

2016 Conference another success

'Very informative - put me down for next year' was a typical feedback comment from a delegate to the 2016 Empty Homes Conference in Birmingham.

The average number of stars awarded by delegates was 4.53 out of 5, maintaining the level of satisfaction seen in previous years. And despite austerity, the numbers attending were only marginally lower than in 2015.

£1.3million grants for empty homes projects to address youth homelessness

Property industry charity Landaid has awarded £1.3million in grants to projects to provide housing for young homeless people by bringing empty homes back into use.

There were 57 applications for the available grant, and awards were made to 15 projects, including World Habitat Award winners Canopy. Canopy's £80,000 grant will enable them to refurbish three properties and provide housing for six young homeless people.

Best Local Authority / Housing Association Partnership Award 2015

As we approach the 2016 Empty Homes Awards season, it's worth refreshing memories with a look back at last year's awards.

We've already covered the Practitioner of the Year Award and the Best Local Authority / Community Housing Organisation Awards, but we haven't given the details of last year's award for the best partnership between a local authority and a housing assocation.

CPO reforms may mean lower Basic Loss payments

DCLG and HM Treasury are consulting on further changes to the compulsory purchase legislation. Most of the changes do not seem to affect empty homes work but important changes to the arrangements for basic loss adjustment seem to offer some hope that CPOs of eyesore empties could become cheaper - depending exactly how the rules might be interpreted.

EHN asks Mayoral candidates to support London Empty Homes Initiative

The Empty Homes Network has published a brief document inviting the candidates in the election for London Mayor to consider the development of a London-wide Empty Homes Initiative.

No Stone Unturned - subtitled 'An Empty Homes Initiative for London' - identifies numerous benefits of a regional approach, citing the initiatives in Kent, Scotland and Wales as exemplars.