Residents asked to help council build on its success with empty homes
News release from 25 November 2016, 9:18am
RESIDENTS are being encouraged to help Cambridge City Council bring empty private residential properties back into use, during the forthcoming National Empty Homes Week, 28 November-2 December, to help tackle the housing shortage.
Making empty properties available for people in need of housing forms an important part of the council’s housing strategy. The council has already helped to bring 20 properties back into use in the last six months, many of which had been empty for a substantial period of time, including one for more than ten years.
There are currently estimated to be 272 properties in Cambridge which have been empty for more than six months, of which 49 are thought to have been empty for more than two years. The council has invested in a dedicated Empty Homes Officer post to help tackle the problem.
With assistance from the council, one owner also chose to rent their empty property through Town Hall Lettings, the council’s not-for profit lettings agency. This provided the owner with a regular income and has given secure, affordable rented housing to a young working couple.
Town Hall Lettings offers owners a reliable, low cost property management service for potential landlords, and provides people in need of housing with affordable rented accommodation of a good standard.
Incentives are available to homeowners looking to bring long term empty homes brought back into use. These include reductions in council tax and VAT reductions for builders working on previously empty homes. The council can liaise on behalf of property owners with local letting agents.
Local homeless charity, Jimmy’s Cambridge, is also working with the council and owners of empty properties in the city to offer housing and support to people facing homelessness.
National Empty Homes Week highlights work being done across the country to tackle the problem of properties remaining empty despite the shortage of affordable housing nationwide.
Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “This is welcome news and demonstrates our determination to ensure that homes do not stand empty in the city, especially when the housing crisis affects so many. Private owners who have a property that is currently empty could make a real difference to a family, couple or individual in real need of a home.
“Our officers can provide all the advice and assistance owners might need, and can highlight incentives that exist for bringing homes back in use, which can benefit themselves and the wider community.”
If you are the owner of an empty property, and would like to discuss how we can help you bring it back into use, call us on 01223 457622 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are aware of an empty property in the city, please report it to our Empty Homes Officer using the same contact details; or use the ‘report it’ button on the council website at www.cambridge.gov.uk/empty-homes.
The council has enforcement powers, which it can use to compel empty property owners to bring their homes back into use, but these are only used as a last resort.