In a nutshell...
Our strapline is "Supporting the people who bring empty property back into use for housing". That sums it up.
The Empty Homes Network (EHN) is the successor to the National Association of Empty Property Practitioners (NAEPP). NAEPP was established in May 2001 to support people involved in delivering empty property strategies. It was launched by empty property practitioners with the support of government ministers, the Housing Corporation and the Empty Homes Agency.
(Communities Minister Don Foster speaking at our 2013 Conference)
Who are 'Empty Property Practitioners'?
You don't have to be a dedicated Empty Homes or Empty Property Officer to belong to the Empty Homes Network. A high proportion of our local authority members are either Housing Enabling / Housing Strategy Officers or Private Sector Environmental Health Officers, depending on who leads on empty property work. We also have members who work for self-help housing organisations, Registered Social Landlords and regeneration partnerships and in the private sector. The main criterion is that you are involved in tackling empty property as a part of your job.
The Aims of EHN
Our constitution defines the aims of the organisation as follows:
- to foster mutual support and understanding amongst Empty Property Practitioners;
- to raise the status and profile of Empty Property Practitioners
- to promote the value of the dedicated Empty Property Practitioner;
- to promote, support and facilitate the development of professional standards and skills amongst Empty Property Practitioners;
- to promote policies and practices which offer effective responses to the challenges presented by empty property.
Support for Practitioners
Our website is packed with useful information for practitioners. Members are notified by email as new content is added. We post stories about current developments in the empty homes field and links to resources of many kinds.
In addition, we produce our own guidance and practitioner briefings on a range of key topics. Many are available only to paying members but some are accessible to anyone, such as our Good Practice Standards for Local Authority Empty Homes Initiatives.
Our Conferences are well-recognised as excellent value for money.
Becoming a Subscriber
If you are not working as an empty homes practitioner you can still support EHN and benefit from our extensive on-line resources by subscribing to our website. This costs £95 per annum.
Some EHN/NAEPP successes to date
Increased government support for empty homes work
After the government announced that £100million of its Affordable Homes Programme would be set aside for empty homes, the EHN wrote to the government promoting the need for an empty homes fund that would have fewer strings attached and could be used more flexibly. In a surprise announcement in the Autumn 2011 Budget Statement the government announced a further £50million for empty homes outside of the Affordable Homes Programme, to be available to local authorities and used flexibly in the Clusters of Empties programme.
Access to Council Tax Data
We wrote to the government whilst the Local Government Bill 2003 was going through parliament requesting a clause allowing practitioners access to Council Tax data for the purposes of furthering their Empty Homes Strategies. The relevant clauses allowing access to Council Tax data were then added to the Bill. A key official wrote
" I thought I would convey my thanks to you for getting the ball rolling on this. Your letter in response to the draft bill really sparked off a lively debate at ODPM".
Best Value Performance Indicator 64
In a an example of exceptional partnership working between practitioners and central government, the NAEPP Guidelines on Best Value Performance Indicator 64 were officially endorsed by the ODPM.
The Empty Homes Network will continue to develop a policy agenda aimed at helping local authorities bring more empty properties back into use. Your involvement in EHN will help you shape that agenda.
Other EHN/NAEPP initiatives
EHN member representation has been crucial in lobbying for new tools for practitioners. For example our members played an important role in contributinig to both the concept and detail of Empty Dwelling Management Orders.
We provide constructive, well-considered feedback on all relevant government consultation exercises drawing on the extensive experience and knowledge of our members.
We produce policy documents such as Empty Homes: National Commitment, Local Action (2010) and From empty promise to national action plan (2009) to encourage a deeper understanding of the empty homes issue amongst decision makers and to highlight pratical solutions.
How does the EHN work?
The Empty Homes Network currently has around 500 members. We are an unincorporated association. Currently, we have no paid employees. Instead day-to-day administration is handled by a specialist support agency peer2peer services. We rely on the participation of our members to make our work effective. The website forums are the main channels of communication and we also send out e-newsletters on specific issues.
EHN is run day-to-day by an Executive comprising representatives from all the regional forums plus elected Officers and up to five elected Ordinary Members.
The Executive Committee meets 2 times a year. Where appropriate we invite representatives from other involved parties such as the Empty Homes Agency.
If you want to help run EHN eg by becoming involved in the Executive, by helping draft Consultation Responses or by helping organise meetings etc. then please let us know. Your input will be welcome.