Empty homes action
A revised Empty Homes Policy is now in force in Aylesbury Vale, making it easier for empty homes to be identified and put back into use.
According to data from independent charity ‘Empty Homes in England’, there are currently more than 200,000 long-term (more than six months) empty homes in England. This is an increase of 5,000 from 2017.
However, Aylesbury Vale District Council has bucked this trend by overseeing a 45% reduction in the number of empty homes between 2012 and 2017 in the Vale. To continue this positive progress, the council’s Empty Homes Policy enables residents to report any such homes in the Vale by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, landlords of empty homes can apply for low-interest loans to help bring their properties up to saleable and rentable condition. These loans are then paid back from rent or the proceeds of the sale of the properties.
Another measure devised to cut down the empty homes issue is the increase of council tax to 150% on homes that have been empty for more than two years. This is designed to act as an incentive to landlords of empty homes to put them back into use.
Councillor Mark Winn, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: ‘I’m delighted that our Cabinet has approved the Empty Homes Policy, and I’d encourage residents to report any empty homes they become aware of in the Vale. Empty properties are a magnet for anti-social behaviour and can negatively impact the lives of people living nearby. Tackling empty properties not only helps provide additional much-needed homes, but also improves the local environment.
‘I’m pleased with the success we’ve had in reducing the number of empty homes but there is further work to do. This new policy focuses on long-term empty properties – which are those houses that have been empty for over two years – and our ‘graduated’ approach to enforcement, whereby we offer advice and incentives to landlords to assist them in bringing properties back in to use prior to considering formal measures.’
The new policy has been launched during National Empty Homes Week, an annual initiative that helps raise public awareness of the advice and assistance that is available for local authorities to tackle empty homes.
To read AVDC’s revised Empty Homes Policy, visit: www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/empty-homes