Making the best use of existing homes in Cambridge is one of the key objectives in our Housing Strategy 2012 -15 [PDF]. There is a shortage of residential accommodation available in the city as housing demand outstrips housing supply quite significantly, and in particular there is a shortage of family accommodation available at reasonable rent.
With housing and land in short supply in Cambridge it is necessary to ensure that empty homes do not remain empty unnecessarily and fall into misuse and dereliction.You can report an empty home to us by using the link below, you don't have to leave any personal details unless you want to.
We can offer support and assistance to empty home owners to help them bring their property back in to use, or we can use enforcement action to bring the properties in to use Empty Homes Policy 2012 [PDF, 60Kb].
Why properties become or remain empty
In most cases this is because the owners need assistance, support, information, or encouragement to help return empty homes to use. Although there are numerous other reasons that properties remain empty including:
- Financial implications.
- Requires renovation and/or building work.
- Reluctance to let/sell.
- Health issues.
- Probate, estate or legal ownership issues.
- Lack of awareness of support options.
This list is not exhaustive, and the reasons can vary in severity. It is important, therefore, that we are able to give the appropriate level of support to those who need it.
The impact an empty home has
Each empty home denies a household somewhere to live and returning an empty home to use has social, environmental and financial benefits. If left empty properties can:
- Fall into disrepair, or become ruinous or dilapidated.
- Attract vandalism, antisocial behaviour and crime.
- Cause damage to adjacent properties, and possibly health issues for neighbours through lack of maintenance.
- Pose a threat to safety, particularly to young children.
- Reduce the value of the surrounding area as well as themselves.
Again this list is not exhaustive, empty homes can create a great deal of problems not only for the owners but for those situated in the surrounding areas.
Benefits of bringing an empty home back into use
Bringing an empty home back into use has a number of benefits, these include:
- In some instances work to return an empty home to use may attract a reduction in VAT.
- Generating potential income for the owner, and increasing property value.
- Reducing the risk of crime and vandalism for the property, and the local area.
- Providing accommodation for others to use.
- Contributing to the regeneration of an area, increasing spending in the local economy, and helping to protect the value of the surrounding area.
How we can help
We can offer a range of services to give the best support and advice possible to empty homes owners and neighbours, we can:
- Offer informal advice and assistance.
- Offer financial assistance to owners.
- Offer to buy empty homes from the owners.
- Offer to refer to town hall lettings the councils not for profit letting agent
- Offer to find suitable companies to do works for owners.
In some circumstances the Council may consider to use enforcement action these could be:
- Deal with dangerous, derelict, and ruinous buildings through enforcement notices.
- Serve improvement notices in order to remove hazards.
- Take over the management of the property by using an empty dwelling management order or EDMO
- Undertake Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) when it is in the public interest, as a last resort.
In order to better understand why properties are left empty and offer the most appropriate help we encourage owners to complete are online questionnaire. The information gathered will allow us give a more individual approach in certain cases and find a way forward in ensuring properties are returned to use.
We are eager to help empty home owners as much as possible, whilst avoiding enforcement actions.