Empty Homes Network

National Empty Homes Conference,
May 29th 2012, Birmingham

29 May 2012 10:00
Event Description: 

The Draft Programme for this essential event  has now been published - and we've kept costs even lower than last year, with big discounts for full Members of the Empty Homes Network.  See the attached Booking Form for further details.

We're pleased to announce that Andrew Stunell MP will be speaking and has offered to address questions submitted by our practitioners (you can register your questions here).

Others speakers include representatives from key organisations such as :

  • Homes and Communities Agency
  • Empty Homes
  • self-help-housing.org (Community Grants Programme)

We have practice sessions lined up on

  • councl tax
  • good service of notices
  • EDMOs
  • Empty Homes Strategies

We  expect to see new partnership schemes being presented by

  • GraftonLtd with Dave Stott (tracing agents and enforced sales)
  • Dee Rentals (new leasing options)
  • House Doctor (new options for owners)
  • Paul Palmer and Get Wise Gruoup leasing/sjupportedl housing options)

And of course, we will have our Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year Award

We have booked our conference venue at Maple House, Birmingham.  The venue provider is the same as for our joint London Conference in 2011. You can proceed with confidence that this is indeed  the date of the Empty Homes National Conference.

With budget cuts and ever-higher travel costs, we know that keeping the cost of attending as low as possible will be a big consideration.  The costs of delegate places will be comparable with previous years, as low as £115 for full members of the Empty Homes Network and with special options for small organisations.

You can minimise your travel costs by, for example coming the night before. Travelodge rooms in central Birmingham are currently available for 28th May (ie the night before the Conference) at £33 per night (as at 11th May).  (We have no commercial relationship with Travelodge).

To book your place, simply download the booking form, complete and return to events@ehnetwork.org.uk

Contact details: 

Enquiries can be sent to events@ehnetwork.org.uk

HCA and CLG - deliver or hand money back

CLG and HCA logos

At last Thursday's Empty Homes Summit, organised by the Empty Homes Network, representatives from the Homes and Communities Agency and the Department of Communities and Local Government stressed the need for organisations with allocations under Rounds 1 and 2 of the government's Empty Homes Programmes to be confident of delivery or hand allocations back so the funding could be re-deployed elsewhere.

Re-allocation within Empty Homes pot

Sarah Streater and Helen Williams of the HCA, both Area Managers with operational responsiblities for delivery, described how the aim throughout was to keep money within the Empty Homes Programme if at all possible. Where money was returned, the first port of call was other empty homes projects within the same area; if there were no takers, money would be returned to the national pot but with the intention of funding empty homes projects elsewhere in the country. 

Despite difficulties in some areas, there were also successful projects that had already spent their allocations and were able to deliver more if funding was available. There was a strong will within the HCA to delivery the government's policy priorities of tackling empty homes.

Reputational damage can be avoided

A point that was emphasised was that, provided organisations unable to deliver handed back their allocations promptly, they could escape damage to their reputatoins.  It was recognised that tackling empty homes - particularly the worse cases that the programme had been designed to address - required long lead times that the programme could not easily accommodate. However, where organisations hung onto the money more in hope than expectation and either failed to deliver or handed the funding back too late for it to be re-allocated, then certainly this could affect reputations with implications for

No extensions

It was also emphasised that there had been no hint of any extension to the March 2015 deadline. Any such extension would need to be sanctioned by the Treasury.  For Community Grants Programme projects there was an informal deadline of the end of October 2014 for providers to have secured certainty for their schemes (i.e. lease signed) on the expectation that anything later than that woudl be unlikely to  deliver before the end-of-programme deadline.

"Continuous Market Engagement"

One option available to providers under the HCA programme is to re-bid for money under the Continuous Market Engagement process for the 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme. The CME opportunity should be available soon now that the first allocations for the 2015-18  have been announced.  It is difficult to know how likely such CME bids would be to succeed if the political backing for a separate Empty Homes programme is lacking.  Moreover, this would apparently involve new contracts.

Empty Homes Network representations

The Empty Homes Network expects to make representations to the government to allow, as a minimum, a de facto extension of the HCA programme by passporting 2012-15 projects through to the 2015-18 programme, thus securing a better set of outcomes for the Empty Homes Programme.  The Tribal programme is more problematic because Tribal's own contract; but surely like any contract it can be extended? or transferred to HCA, given that the paperwork is relatively simple?

Housing supply debate - honourable mentions for empty homes work

An Opposition Day debate on Housing Supply on the 9th July gives some indication of where the empty homes issues stands in current political thinking.  The answer is not very far up the agenda - but in the context of Britain's housing need that is not altogether surprising given the widely-accepted view that the nation needs upwards of 200,000 new dwellings a year (and it's never clear whether that figure takes care of the backlog). 

Buy-to-Leave and second homes

The motion was moved by the Shadow Minister for Housing, Emma Reynolds.

In an early intervention, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, asked a "friendly" question about buy-to-leave-empty in London (i.e. speculating on rising property prices and seeking to avoid any issues associated with the dwelling being occupied in the meantime: with new dwellings, hoping to sell them on in "as-new" condition), Reynolds completely ignored the question and responded by talking about the perceived issue of land-banking instead: not a great start, but in these cases speakers are likely to want to focus on the things they planned to say.

Buy-to-leave-empty was also a phenomenon at the height of the pre-crash housing bubble but in London the picture is confused by foreign investment that is associated not with buy-to-leave-empty but buy-to-visit-very-occasionally, so this might have been a good time to talk about second homes,

Subsequently Andrew George, Lib-Dem MP for St. Ives raised the issue of second homes directly. The response did not suggest much appetite from Labour to address the issue:

I think that this whole debate around second homes is difficult. How do we prove which is someone’s first or second home? Many right hon. and hon. Members here, for example, split their time pretty much equally between London and their constituency. I am not entirely sure that the measures suggested by the hon. Gentleman would be fair or effective.

There was no hint of at least following in the steps of Wales which has taken the significant step of changing council tax to align with that on long-term empties as reported by us here - effectively a 100% council tax premium.  Nick Boles (at that time, before the reshuffle, Planning Minister) indicated that the answer to second homes might lie in Community Land Trusts i.e. to develop new supply that would be restricted to local people.

Vacant Dwellings

It proved to be Conserative MPs who had most to say about dealing with mainstream empty homes.  For example Nick de Bois, MP for Enfield North, offered:

A considerable number of empty homes in London need to be brought back into use. Between 2008 and 2012, around 5,000 empty homes were brought back into use, and I am sure that we can do more. We have more funding to bring another 1,100 empty homes back into use. In fact, there are now about 25,000 fewer empty homes in London than there were in 2008. Supplying new homes is crucial, but so is work on decent homes—restoring the stock we have to make them liveable—and restoring empty homes.

The most significant contribution was by Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire:

Another reason why this glass-half-empty Opposition debate is astonishing is that they are talking only about new builds, and not about bringing properties back into use. The most imaginative scheme has come from a charity that looks after ex-service people. It has bought two rows of houses in the north-east for £1 a street. The houses are being brought back into use by the people who will live in them. That is not costing the public purse anything. Everybody had written off those houses because they are up in the north-east and stuff does not happen up there. That is not good enough. It is time that the Opposition decided to play a better and bigger part in solving this problem.

There are lots of empty homes in our country. Councils that are using their initiative are not just putting the council tax on empty homes up from 50% to 80%; they are charging 100%, then 110% if the home is still empty the next year, and 120% if it is still empty the year after

that. That can go up to 140%, because we want homes to be brought back into use. That is not about restricting people or taxing them out. The council wants the homes to be brought back into use, so it says to the people who own them, “Do you want tenants? Our council housing people will organise tenants for you.” That is done at private rent prices and can involve short-term lets, three-year lets or whatever they want. Innovative councils are bringing empty homes back into use.

These were the only MPs to flag up the potential of local empty homes initiatives.

Closing the debate for Labour, Shadow Minister for CLG Andy Sawford (MP for Corby) did at least include empty homes in the thumbnail sketch of Labour policy on the issue of housing supply:

The right to grow; use it or lose it on land banking; reform to the housing revenue account; backing small and medium-size builders; tackling empty homes; reforming the private rented sector; scrapping the cruel bedroom tax

Nick Boles, in response, did not mention the issue although, as noted above, he did refer to second homes.

Empty Homes Network pinterest page created

There is now an Empty Homes Network pinterest webpage which will provide a useful hub of links to stories and projects elsewhere on the web as well as to features on our own website.

We welcome new followers - just click one of the "follow" buttons  on our pinterest webpage....which is http://www.pinterest.com/EmptyHomesNet/empty-homes-network/

 

Labour promise to raise Empty Homes Premium to 100% in England

Ed Miliband

After research by the BBC revealed that seven London boroughs were not using the Empty Homes Premium (see story here), Ed Miliband has pledged to raise the Empty Homes Premium to 100% in England, if elected, matching the approach already being taken in Wales and Scotland. A recent mention of the same policy initiative by Emma Reynolds confirms that this is now the Labour position.

The London Boroughs not using the power were named as Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Bromley, Havering, Hillingdon, Kingston-upon-Thames and Merton.  The cabinet member for housing for Westminster, Daniel Astaire, spoke to the BBC and offered probably the most supine view on empty homes ever to be heard: "Privately owned property is owned for a number of reasons by a number of people and it's not our part to interfere."  Homeless people in Westminster will be thrilled to hear top local politicians promising that no stone will be left unturned in the effort to ignore empty property.

It will also be an astonishing message for the many Conservative councils that are amongst the leading authorities in tackling empties, such as Kent and Cheshire West.  However, there is at least an element of truth in Astaire's remark that  "we don't think this [the premium] will make any meaningful difference in the city" - a piffling 50% on top of an already low council tax is hardly likely to strike terror into the hearts of the international bourgeoisie and assorted jet-setters who flock to purchase properties in central London, hence Boris Johnson's widely-reported call for up to 1000% premium in some circumstances.

Anecdotally, based on feedback from practitioners around the country, the Empty Homes Premium has been effective in getting owners of long-term empties to engage: many have been helped to bring their homes back into use after contacting local councils.

For a less up-to-date but much fuller picture of Empty Homes Premium across the whole of England EHN members can refer to our news story, which is based on CTB returns in October 2013.  Subsequently further authorities may have introduced the Premium in April 2014 - we'll find out when the 2014 CTB returns are published. To view the associated spreadsheet, you'll need to be logged in as a full member.

 

East London Empty Property Expo - 19th July, Barbican, London

19 Jul 2014 10:30
19 Jul 2014 17:00
Event Description: 

Supported by Empty Homes and East London boroughs and with EPOs providing a seminar session, the Expo is geared to empty homes owners. The page for visitors says:

If you own an Empty Property, this event has been launched with you in mind. We want to raise awareness of the possibilities that are at your fingertips - and help you get better returns on your investment now - by offering access to: 

  • Empty property leasing opportunities 
  • Advice from local authorities and government bodies
  • The expertise of private sector companies
  • Information on changes to Empty Property financial incentives
  • Information on how to revitalise of local shopping parades
  • Opportunities for converting empty offices into residential accommodation
With all this on offer and more, book your free tickets and come along so you can seize the opportunities and play your part in helping to improve environments, create employment and stimulate economic regeneration.
Contact details: 

Short survey seeks practitioners' views

Adrian White, a student at Plymouth University, is conducting research into housing supply, including the role that can be played by empty homes work, including conversions of redundant commercial space.

This is an interactive online suvey using Smartsurvey.  It takes just a couple of minutes to complete and you're encouraged to help Adrian by doing so.  We'll report the results in due course when Adrian has analysed them.

You can access the survey here.

Brandon Lewis new Planning and Housing Minister

Brandon Lewis

In the July government reshuffle both Nick Boles, previously responsible for planning, and Kris Hopkins, previously responsible for housing, have moved on to be replaced by Brandon Lewis who, as Minister of State, will cover both briefs.

Brandon Lewis is a barrister and company director and also served five years as Leader of Brentwood Borough Council. He is MP for Great Yarmouth.  According to 24dashnews he is close political ally of Eric Pickles so much so that, according to the site,  "in 2009, Lewis and Pickles formed an unlikely broadcasting double act. ‘The Eric and Brandon Show’ aired on obscure Essex radio station Phoenix FM...".

As local government minister in 2012 he was centrally involved in the changes to council tax exemptions and the introduction of the Empty Homes Premium and defended the premium against attack by other Conservative MPs (eg David Morris MP).  Subsequently as minister with responsibility for high streets he will have had to deal with the issue of empty commercial property and was also involved in the Transformation Fund designed to promoste shared services and other forms of modernisation in local government.

The government reshuffle is of Conservative ministers only, so Stephen Williams role as Undersecretary with responsibility for empty homes is not affected.  But whereas Kris Hopkins, with responsiblity for housing, was on the same level as Stephen Williams and therefore could have had no responsiblity for him, Brandon Lewis is clearly a more senior Minister. In the runup to the elections, the political dimension of the government actions on empty homes will start to assume more significance.  There might therefore be more interaction between the two. 

Brief details about Brandon Lewis can be found on the gov.uk site here or on his own website here.

 

Wales leads the way with Second Homes Premium

Welsh Assemby building - Pierhead, Cardiff

With the approval on 8th of July by the Welsh Assembly of the Housing Wales Bill, Wales has taken the lead with its approach to council tax on second homes by introducing what is effectively a "Second Homes Premium" to sit alongside the Empty Homes Premium.

Second Homes Premium

The flexibility introduced by the provisions of Part 7 of the Housing Wales Bill  include the power for local authorities to charge a council tax premium of up to 100% on homes where:

"(a)       there is no resident of the dwelling, and

(b)       the dwelling is substantially furnished."

This immediately closes the loophole available in England whereby some sticks of furniture can be introduced into a long-term empty (or might already be there) so that the Empty Homes Premium does not apply.  Indeed the opposite will be likely to happen as there is no grace period with the Second Homes Premium - it will kick in straight away, so that owners of true "furnished empties" will be inclined to remove any furniture rather than putting furniture in.

The Empty Homes Network had previously proposed that furnished and unfurnished properties be put on an equal footing, with the Premiums applicable to both after the same lenght of time. The Welsh Bill goes further, is simpler and harder for owners to circumvent.

Interestingly, too, the Second Homes Premium does not shilly-shally around with "periods of occupation" - either there is a resident or not.  The criterion of "residency" can be assumed to be tougher than someone - anyone - merely occupying the home for a period of time.

Empty Homes Premium

The Bill also introduces an Empty Homes Premium in Wales, similar to Scotland in that the rate can be up to 100% and it can kick in after 1 year, rather than the 50% and 2 years stipulated by the half-hearted English version.  As with England and Scotland, the Premium applies to empties that are "substantially unfurnished" and periods of occupation of less than 6 weeks are discounted.

The Welsh provisions also allow for a stepped approach to EHP, with an increasing amount over time (up to the maximum) rather than a single fixed level of premium.  But unlike the Scottish legislation there is no requirement for the tax collected to be re-invested in affordable housing.

Periods of vacancy prior to the provisions of the Act coming into effect are ignored.

Flexibility for Welsh Ministers

The Welsh Ministers can, by regulation

  • increase (but not reduce) the minimum period of 1 year associated with  the Empty Homes Premium
  • change the lenght of the "6-week" occupancy criterion applicable to Empty Homes Premium
  • change the level of the premiums (either up or down)
  • specify classes of dwellings or circumstances to which either premium would not then apply

Such changes would be subject to ratification by the Welsh Assembly.

The provisions discussed here will not come into effect until dates still to be specified by the Welsh Ministers. After commencement, it seems any premium can be introduced with 21 days notice given via a local newspaper. But once introduced local authorities can only revoke or change their determinations of premiums and local discretionary provisions prior to the commencement of a financial year.

No National Empty Homes Strategy

During the passage of the Bill through the Assembly a number of interesting amendments were proposed and susbequently dropped or voted down including 

  • a requirement for the Welsh government to produce a National Empty Homes Strategy
  • a requirement for additional revenue collected by local authorities as Empty Homes or Second Homes Premium to be allocated to affordable housing or regeneration
  • a requirement for local authorities to provide returns to the government on the number of long-term empty homes and for the government to publish the figures.

Next step

The Bill is currently awaiting final scrutiny in London to establish that it is not ultra vires. Technically the government's Secretary of State for Wales can also refuse consent according to our superficial reading of processes around . This is a period of up to 28 days after which it can go for Royal Assent.

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Photo: Pierhead building, Cardiff. Credit: National Assembly for Wales under creative commons attribution 2.0

Most Innovative Intervention of the Year Award 2014

The second award featured in our series about the Empty Homes Awards 2014 presented at our Conference in Birmingham in May is that for Most Innovative Intervention. This award was newly introduced last year by sponsor Carson Millican, trading as Empty Property Solutions Ltd (contactable by email).   Carson, who's a long-standing member of the EHN Executive and whose expertise has been bought in by a number of London boroughs over the years, was keen for the Empty Homes Network to promote innovation and saw sponsoring this award as the best way to do so.

Winner - Action Homeless, Leicester

Action Homeless, based in Leicester, had set up a project called Action on Empty Homes which is funded under the Community Grants Programme. The award submission highlighted the partnership working and the way in which the project helped disadvantaged people both in the refurbishment phase and in the lettings of the homes:

Action Homeless is a local charity dedicated to tackling the causes and consequences of homelessness. As a local homelessness charity that has been working with homeless people over the past 40 years, we have seen first-hand the problems caused by a lack of affordable housing in Leicester. After learning that there are approximately 5000 empty properties in our community, we established Action on Empty Homes, a partnership project which aims to provide solutions which benefit people with experience of homelessness and the wider community in a number of ways.

In 2012, Action on Empty Homes was awarded £360,000 of funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government. The project is a partnership with Leicester City Council and HomeCome. As well as bringing empty homes back in to use, the project has created new and much needed units of affordable accommodation for people leaving Action Homeless’ supported accommodation. In addition, Action on Empty Homes has created a range of volunteering and employment opportunities for ex-offenders and people with experience of homelessness through our partnership with Action Trust.

To date, Action on Empty Homes has brought 10 properties back into use, creating 24 new units of accommodation for people with experience of homelessness. This year, the project aims to create a further 26 units of accommodation by bringing 10 more empty properties back into use. The new units of accommodation provide stable housing solutions to people who have experienced homelessness and are ready to leave supported accommodation. The rent is set at local Housing Allowance rates to ensure that the tenancies are affordable to people with no or low income. Action Homeless still offers low level support to all tenants of Action on Empty Homes properties to ensure a smooth transition to independent living.

Action Trust is a social enterprise which was developed and launched by Action Homeless in 2012. Action Trust provides volunteering and employment opportunities to people with experience of homelessness and ex-offenders. Action Trust recruits have been involved in the renovation of many of the properties. This has provided an opportunity for them to develop new skills and apply them in a practical setting. Action Trust volunteers and employees also play a key role in the ongoing maintenance of the properties and undertake regular cleaning and gardening tasks. Action on Empty Homes has enabled those enrolled with Action Trust to build up a portfolio of experience that they can use to secure more permanent and sustained employment, the key to independence.

Since its launch 18 months ago, Action on Empty Homes has been widely supported by the local community and has been featured in the local media on a number of occasions. The benefits of Action on Empty Homes are far reaching. The project has provided homes for single homeless men, women and families. In December 2013, two family homes were completed just in time for Christmas and two women and their children were able to move from Bridge House, a project that offers safe and secure accommodation to women and children who are fleeing domestic violence, into their own homes. A number of those who volunteer for Action Trust have been able secure a tenancy through the Action on Empty Homes project and have therefore benefitted from the project immensely.

Case Study

One of the first property to be renovated by Action on Empty Homes was in the Westcotes area of Leicester and had been empty for over 3 years.

The property had been badly damaged by fire throughout and was in a completely unusable state. The extensive fire damage meant that the work required to bring it back to the Government’s decent homes standard was unaffordable to the owners of the property.

Work started on the empty property in January 2013 and over the following 3 months it underwent a huge transformation (please see images below). Much of the work was completed by Action Trust volunteers, some of whom were on day release from a local young offender’s institution. The volunteers completed the majority of painting and decorating work and assisted with the installation of a new bathroom and kitchen suite.

In April 2013, we held an open day at the Harrow Road property, inviting the local community to come and see the transformation. The day was supported by the Asda Foundation who attended to present a grant of £1976 to enable Action on Empty Homes to provide some basic household items for tenants moving into properties renovated by the project. The property was featured in the Leicester Mercury in April 2014:

The property is now home to three formerly homeless men, they have all been tenants of the property for over 12 months and are making a successful transition to independent living.

Unfortunately no one from Action Homeless was able to come to the awards ceremony. But we have some before and after pictures of their Case Study project (see end of story).

Highly Commended - Knowsley Council

The judging panel were also very impressed with Knowsely Council's submission for an Empty Dwelling Management Order project that involved an innovative use of social media by producing a Youtube video about the project. In our picture below Carson(right) is presenting the award to John Janew and Tony Doyle of Knowsley Council (left and centre). Knowsley's submission is reproduced below the picture

.Knowsley Submission

Background

Knowsley Council launched a new empty homes strategy in 2011 to look at different innovative ways to successfully tackle empty homes.

One approach which has been highly successful is the use of the Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) power. One particular case which highlights how this tool can be used innovatively to open up numerous opportunities was recently demonstrated as we strived to bring a long term empty property back into use which had been vacant since 1999. The property is a two bedroom terraced property in the Whiston ward of Knowsley. Since the property first became empty, Knowsley Council had received numerous enquiries and complaints from local residents and Elected Members relating to the poor condition of the property as it had become an attraction for vermin and was serving as a magnet for anti social behaviour. Following an initial period of unsuccessfully trying to work with the owner to find a solution to bring the property back into use Knowsley Council successfully applied to the Residential Property Tribunal to make an Interim EDMO on the property.

An EDMO was considered to be the most appropriate course of action for the following reasons –

  • The property owner had insufficient resources to manage and bring the property up to a rentable standard
  • The property was located in an area of high demand
  • Two bedroom properties are a scarce resource in Knowsley – so demand for this property type is also very high. This has only been heightened since the implementation of the ‘bedroom tax’ as people look to downsize to suitable properties.

Refurbishment and Management

Due to a lack of finances on the part of the owner the decision was taken to move the Interim EDMO to final EDMO and carry out refurbishment works in default to the property. A lease agreement was then signed with a local Registered Provider, Knowsley Housing Trust (KHT) who agreed to manage the property.

The extensive improvement works to the property consisted of -

  • Re-roofing,
  • New kitchen,
  • New bathroom,
  • Full electrical rewire and a
  • Full decoration of the property.

Added Value and Allocation

The Council was also able to draw on a partnership with Wetherby Building Systems Ltd who secured Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding, which enabled the property to benefit from a new gas central heating boiler and the installation of External Wall Insulation (EWI) at no cost to the owner. These energy efficiency measures helped the property improve its Energy Performance rating from a D to a C. Expected energy bill savings due to these works will be in the region of £400 per annum which would reduce the occupier’s bills and significantly reduce the likelihood of them living in fuel poverty.

Due to the length of time the property had laid empty both the front and rear gardens were significantly overgrown with vegetation. In order to reduce the costs of the refurbishment, the Council worked with Merseyside Probation Trust who tasked their community payback team with clearing both gardens of the property. The community payback offers the chance for offenders to assist with local projects whilst learning new work and life skills whilst completing their order. Such skills can be very influential in helping an offender to stop reoffending.

Once the refurbishment of the property had been completed it was advertised through the sub-regional Choice Based Lettings allocation system Property Pool Plus.  Preference was given to applicants who were under occupying their current property and consequently being affected by the ‘bedroom tax’. The property was successfully let to a resident who had been under-occupying her previous property by 2 bedrooms and so was therefore seeing a 25% reduction in her Housing Benefit of her weekly rent.

The resident said: “In my old house I had the stress of thinking about where the money was going to come from to pay the bedroom tax for the rest of my life and it was too much. Coming into this house was great and I really feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders since being here”.

“When I first came to view the house with my daughter, I was absolutely delighted. The fact that all the work had been done to it took away a lot of the stress of moving. There is a lovely feel to the house and I felt at home right away.”

By facilitating this action this has enabled a highly sought after property type to be made available and relieved the anxiety of a local resident whose significant reduction in housing benefit could have ultimately led to her becoming homeless.  

Whilst an EDMO is primarily an enforcement tool the owner of the property was shown the fully refurbished property and was delighted with the outcome.

The owner said “The property looks fantastic and it just makes me wish this had happened years earlier. The support I have received from the Council has removed a huge stress for me, and seeing the property put to good use again has really given me a lift.”

In addition to taking this action the Council have also sought to utilise modern media methods via a youtube video (see below for web link) to highlight this work which is hoped will demonstrate that the Council can and will use enforcement tools to tackle empty properties where appropriate.

Summary

In summary this project demonstrates not only how an EDMO can be used to successfully bring a long term empty property back into use, but also how in doing so it can complement wider strategic aims which in the current economic climate are essential for Empty Homes officers to secure the funding to enable them to take this type of action. These include -

  • Strong partnership working with local registered providers and ECO delivery partners
  • Increased energy efficiency of existing housing stock complimenting wider Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) and Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) objectives of reducing carbon and Public Health objectives of reducing fuel poverty
  • Contribution to the rehabilitation of offenders through use of community payback team
  • Alleviating the impacts of the ‘bedroom tax’ for a local resident
  • Reducing the potential risk of homelessness to a local resident
  • Reducing stress for an empty property owner
  • Value for money through reducing costs by making use of available ECO funding and free labour
  • Supporting local businesses through targeted procurement

You can also gain a greater insight into the benefits of the scheme and see how the property was transformed on the following Youtube video link

Action Homeless Case Study

The Empty Homes Awards Ceremony was sponsored by Grafton UK  Ltd.