Lib Dem FOI request exposes long-term empties - Guardian story



EDMOs, successful  for Councils that use them, but used by less than 8%. Why?

Despite the changes Pickles made, those that have made applications for  EDMOs have had a good number authorised. And, the article highlights 11,000 empty for 10 years at least. Given Section 17 HA 1985 can also be used to return longterm empty properties to residential use, the question remains, could more be done?

You would expect Councils to only take forward cases that are likely to be authorised (or not challenged) so it is not surprising there is a high success rate. My point is that the properties/ owners that the EDMO legislation can be successfully applied to is so niche (in its current form) that it is unlikely to make a major impact on the 11,000 owners/ properties identified in the article.

I would agree on Compulsory Purchase action under  Section 17 HA 1985 as there are 78 properties (in a similar condition to the one shown in the article) back in use in Wolverhampton via this route.   

More can always be done, and more can be done to allow things to be done



Well done on the 76 returned to use through the CPO action.  Does this mean that  if all LAs takie action the 11,000 ten year pluses would be significantly reduced, or,  that if LAs like yours hadn't  taken the action then the numbers would be significantly higher  - maybe triple?. One of the aims of EDMOs is to increase pressure on the owners of long term empty properties to bring them back to residential use. It was always accepted that the threat alone would see LTEs returned to use. I'm not convinced that  the 'threat' has been delivered as effectively as it could have. I accept  EDMOs can be difficult, but sometimes they are a good alternative to CPO, and cost less.

In the article, The Lib Dems are calling for the reform of EDMOs. If reformed, they would be much more effective.

Is it time to engage with the political parties to reform EDMOs and provide direct funding for LAs that take action on LTEs, particularly if it is to increase the supply of housing through action such as CPO or EDMOs. Increasing supply through action should be the aim.

I 100% agree, Carson, that the EDMOs seriously need reformed so they work better for LAs and also to help with the funding of the repairs.  If EDMOs were reformed successfully for/by EHOs then I would be happy to use them as a 'threat', as Darren/RHI finds this works extremely well in the Rochdale area.  I have always felt that proactive contact with owners is probably best, but for those owners not 'playing ball', the threat of the big stick is necessary.

Lynne Leach, Empty Homes officer, South Lakeland District Council

Lynne Leach

Although we had one successful EDMO quite a few years ago, the main reason we are not doing more is the cost of upfront repairs costs.  The Registered Provider we worked with as managing agent is, understandably, not prepared to 'loan' this funding for repairs, and neither is our local authority.  As it takes the full EDMO period of 7 years to recover all costs, this is no longer financially practical, particularly for smaller rural district councils.  There are lots of other reasons whyI feel an EDMO needs 'tweaking', but the funding upfront of repairs is the main sticking point. 

Lynne Leach, South Lakeland District Council

Lynne Leach

We're yet to complete an EDMO in Plymouth but not for lack of trying! Andrew Lavender delivered EDMO training to us around March/April last year. Since then I've started EDMO proceedings on 3 properties  (i.e. sent questionairres, s235 notices and gave 3m notice of our intention to apply for an iEDMO). 2 have sold (1 is occupied and 1 is being renovated) and I'm helping the hoarder owner to clear the 3rd property. The only thing stopping me doing more is capacity.