One of the few positives to emerge from the National Audit Office's investigation into New Homes Bonus - other than its acknowledged stimulus to local authority efforts to bring empty homes back into use - was that it was easy to understand.
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Cornwall Council offers a range of advice and assistance to help bring long-term empty properties back into use. Its Empty Property Loan scheme has loaned more than £2 million to directly enable over 100 residential units.
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North East Derbyshire District Council are celebrating Empty Homes week by holding an event for owners of empty properties across the District. The event has been jointly organised between the Council and Action Housing - who are a Social Housing provider - and has been designed to promote their 'Sustainable Tenancy Project' which aims to provide housing for young people aged 18-24 who have support needs.
Building on the interim findings of the current Property Guardian Research project, Professor Caroline Hunter and Jed Meers at York Law School have compiled a draft ‘Local Authority Pocket Guide to Property Guardians.’
They intend the guide to provide a 101 grounding in the phenomenon and address some of the key issues, particularly: the lease/licence distinction, the application of controls and standards under the Housing Act 2004, and statutory nuisances under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
EHN members will be pleased to hear that Chris Skinner has been honoured by our local Law Society. There was a spontaneous standing ovation at the awards ceremony whilst Chris’ children went up on stage to receive the award on his behalf.
The press announcement is reproduced below:
Local government lawyer Chris Skinner has been posthumously awarded for his outstanding contribution to the legal profession in Norfolk by the Norwich and Norfolk Law Society.
A letter has gone out to Chief Executives and Leaders of local authorities from Helen Williams of the charity Empty Home, announcing Empty Homes Week 2017. We're sure our members will be pulling out the stops to make the week a successful one.
The full text of the letter is reproduced below:
I have just posted a discussion draft of a document that may be submitted to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and that explores the relevance - or potential relevance - of empty homes for the disaster.
Given media reports of Grenfell survivors continuing to live in hotels, the frequent references to empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea, and the headlines when senior Labour politicians proposed requisitioning empty homes to meet the survivors' immediate housing needs, some kind of formal input from the Network seems essential.
Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, has written to the government requesting powers to levy higher council tax on empty high-value homes. The press release does not state what level of tax should be charged but says it should be set
'at a meaningful rate that would incentivise occupation, or at the very least generate a more substantial receipt that could support investment in new affordable homes and other measures to tackle the housing crisis.'
A new edition of the Empty Homes Agency analysis of empty homes figures has been published, reporting figures mainly derived from the 2016 CTB returns.
The report shows the headline figures for long-term vacants based on those returns to be more or less stable around the 200,000 mark.
This was a new category in our Empty Homes Awards and it produced more entries than we have ever had, in any category.
Sponsorship from Cromwood Social
We also had a new sponsor, in the shape of London social housing provider Cromwood Social thanks in part to the advocacy of Abdus Saleh, their Head of Investment and Development, who has had a long-time involvement with empty homes issues as an enabler.
Contributing to the Conference Brochure, the organisation wrote:
The Irish media are reporting the announcement by Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Goverment, of the measures that are being taken to tackle some of the Republic's 180,000 empty homes.
Empty homes in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are back in the headlines after RKBC released a list of all the owners. According to the Guardian newspaper,the list was emailed 'by mistake' and includes the names of all the owners.
The Innovation Award is the brainchild of Carson Millican (pictured right), trading as Empty Property Solutions Ltd. Now based in Northern Ireland, Carson gained many years’ experience of empty homes work at different London Boroughs and with the East London Regeneration Partnership and has been a stalwart member of the Empty Homes Network for many years, serving on its Executive.
In sponsoring the award, Carson explained as follows:
A number of news reports have been citing research by estate agents James Pendleton Ltd. which shows how little use is being made of Empty Dwelling Management Orders around the country, and in London in particular.
The fire at Grenfell House in Kensington and Chelsea has brought empty homes into the headlines, following Jeremy Corbyn’s call for unoccupied luxury flats in the borough to be requisitioned to ensure that survivors of the disaster can be housed locally.
When launching his proposal on 15th June, Corbyn explicitly situated it in the context of the supposed buy-to-leave phenomenon (which Corbyn inaccurately referred to as ‘land-banking’). He was reported to have said:
Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, has been appointed Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government.
His predecessor, Gavin Barwell, lost his seat in the June 2017 General Election. Sharma's own majority was reduced from over 6,000 to 2,876.
This is our longest-running awards category and it always attracts high quality submissions, making the choice of winners difficult.
This year, the award was sponsored and judged by Kent’s No Use Empty team, who certainly are well-equipped with all the necessary experience needed to evaluate the entries.
In the event, they selected one outright winner, and also gave a ‘highly commended’ award. The awards were presented at the Empty Homes Conference in Bimringham by Steve Grimshaw, Programme Manager, Kent County Council.