National news

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.

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.

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.

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.

Scotland explores Compulsory Sale Orders for abandoned land and buildings

Having led the way with Empty Homes Premium, Scotland may well be en route to develop a new device for the empty homes toolkit in the form of Compulsory Sale Orders. These would be targeted at 'vacant, derelict and empty land', but in principle this would seem to include empty dwellings.

Raab announces boost for rural conversions

Farmers are being given enhanced options for converting agricultural buildings to homes through an extension of Permitted Development Rights. These allow owners to effect a change of use without needing full planning permission.

The amended development right for the change of use of agricultural buildings to provide up to 5 new homes will allow for:

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