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Tracing agent research indicates local authority confusion

A major report published by Anglia Research reveals a considerable amount of uncertainty, inconsistency and questionable practice amongst local authorities using probate researchers (or 'tracing agents'). For empty homes practitioners seeking to use tracing agents to locate missing owners, the report highlights some of the risks involved and the need for due diligence and robust procedures to control those risks. It warrants close reading.

The raw evidence on which the report is based consists of responses to a series of Freedom of Information requests sent to local authorities by solicitor Carolyn Lord, Commercial and Compliance Director at Anglia, . These were originally focused on the use of tracing agents in the context of public health funerals, but later rounds of requests also enquired about local authority use of tracing agents for empty homes

The research involved more than data collection, however: it also drew on the opinions of barristers into the appropriateness, legality, etc of various positions and practices adopted by local authorities.

Kent scoops Regeneration Award

Kent's No Use Empty (NUE) initiative scooped the award for ‘Outstanding approach to regeneration’ at the UK Housing Awards event at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in central London.

The UK Housing Awards, run by Inside Housing and the Chartered Institute of Housing, is the largest and longest running awards in the sector and is now in its third decade.

Steve Grimshaw, NUE Programme Manager and Jackie Gibb, NUE Project Officer were joined by colleagues Stuart White (Dover), Iain Cobby (Folkestone & Hythe),  and Simon Doherty (Gravesham) to collect the award.

For more details of the Awards, visit Inside Housing.

Mark Dance, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, KCC (pictured above) said “An incredible achievement! A huge thank you from me on your win as you know I am a great fan of NUE”.

New EHA report highlights community-based approaches

Empty Homes, the national campaigning charity, has a project to spread community-based regeneration in areas with high levels of empty homes. We are following demonstration projects where community-based organisations are bringing empty homes into use in areas with high levels of empty homes. We want to share their experiences and encourage other organisations to look at how community-based regeneration could work in such neighbourhoods to tackle the underlying causes of empty homes.

Our report, Community-based approaches in areas with high-levels of empty homes,  aims to share the learning from the demonstration projects over the past year. It also makes recommendations about how best to support community-based empty homes work. The report is accessible via the EHN Information Library here.


Resolution Foundation proposes surcharge on empties and second homes

The 23rd report from the Intergenerational Commission, entitled A New Generational Contract, includes surcharges on second and empty homes as part of its 10 main policy recommendations.

Recommendation number 6 reads:

Replace council tax with a progressive property tax with surcharges on second and empty properties; halve stamp duty rates to encourage moving; and offer a time-limited capital gains tax cut to incentivise o of additional properties to sell to rst-time buyers.