CAMBRIDGE City Council is marking national Empty Homes Week with a call to residents and property owners to help bring unoccupied homes back into use.
National Empty Homes Week takes place from 23-27 September to highlight the work being done to address the fact that around 216,000 properties in the UK remain empty, despite the shortage of affordable housing nationwide.
In Cambridge it is estimated that there are currently 437 empty properties. The council is currently investigating 92 cases where a property has been left unoccupied for more than six months.
In the last financial year the council assisted with returning 30 properties to use as homes for families, couples, groups or individuals.
The council can offer advice and assistance to property owners on improvements needed to ensure it is in a good condition to be sold or rented, and can offer interest free loans of up to £25,000 to help with renovations. While doing all it can to support and incentivise owners, it can also take appropriate enforcement action where necessary.
The council works closely with its not-for-profit lettings agency Town Hall Lettings who offer a full property management and lettings service to owners.
The council can also help neighbours whose own home may be affected by an empty property nearby, if for example if it has been left unsecure or is attracting antisocial behaviour.
Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: ““Empty Homes Week is a great way for the public to know more about the support on offer from the city council to help empty homes come back into use. We provide advice as well as an interest-free loan to help with refurbishment costs of a property so it can be suitable again to be let out to prospective tenants.
“I encourage everyone who wants their home to no longer be empty – but don’t know how or where to start – to get in touch with us, even if it is just to have an informal chat.
“Cambridge has an affordable housing crisis, and ensuring that the number of homes for rent in the private sector is fully maximised is an important component of the council’s housing strategy. We hope as many landlords and property owners come forward to help us address this crisis, which can only be done if we work together”.”
If you are the owner of a property which has been empty for some time, or are aware of a property that is not being lived in, you can get in touch (anonymously if preferred) by phoning 01223 457632, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or using the ‘Report an empty home’ link at www.cambridge.gov.uk/empty-homes