CAMBRIDGE City Council is backing a national campaign to bring empty properties back into use.
Empty Homes Week is running from 15-21 February this year to highlight the problem of properties remaining unused and empty, despite there being a shortage of affordable housing.
Due to particularly high housing demand within Cambridge, the council takes the presence of empty homes in the city very seriously and tackling the issue is an important part of its overall housing strategy.
The council actively works with property owners and executors to bring empty properties back into use. In some instances, the council may purchase unused properties itself to turn into affordable housing, through its Housing Development Agency.
Despite the pandemic, since March last year, the council has helped bring 21 previously empty properties in the city back into use to provide much needed affordable homes.
The owners of empty homes are potentially losing thousands of pounds of income each year which they can easily avoid. Any property in the city that has been left unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years may also be subject to an increased premium on its Council Tax.
If you own an empty property and are looking to bring it back into use and ensure it delivers a reasonable rental return, the council’s social lettings agency, Townhall Lettings, can also assist.
Townhall Lettings works to provide good quality, affordable private rented accommodation for tenants, and provide an all-round management service to landlords.
At present, Townhall Lettings is working with the owners of several previously empty homes. In one recent case in Coleridge ward, the agency was able to arrange a substantial number of repairs to a property that had stood empty for several years, and so bring it back into use.
This not only provided more much needed affordable accommodation within the city, but also ended the owner’s sole liability for utilities and additional Council Tax, thus allowing them to make a significant savings on their outgoings.
Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “Empty homes are a wasted resource and can lead to problems for owners of neighbouring properties by causing damage, attracting fly tipping and antisocial behaviour.
“We appreciate that properties can be empty for many reasons, such as problems with probate, family breakdowns, other disputes or health issues. Unfortunately, for these reasons, properties often get left unoccupied for long periods of time but we are here to help.
“Cambridge has a severe shortage of affordable housing – if you own or know of a property standing empty I would urge you to get in touch with us, so we can help you in turning it back into a proper home for Cambridge people.”
If you have an empty property or are concerned about a long term empty home and would like to contact the Council’s Empty Homes Officer to discuss this please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a property or land that you are interested in selling and think it may be suitable for development for affordable housing please email the council’s Housing Development Agency: email@example.com