Could empty homes help solve the housing crisis?

29 Nov 2016

Empty houses can have a negative impact on any neighbourhood yet as talk of the housing shortage reaches fever pitch there are over 600,000 empty homes in England that could help solve the crisis.

Social and economic factors such as low incomes, falling house prices, a transient population and a growing private rented sector have all led to higher levels of empty properties with over 40,000 empty homes in the North East alone.  

Homes are left empty for lots of reasons.  Maybe a house has fallen into negative equity or needs repairs the owners can’t afford, or perhaps someone has inherited a property and they aren’t sure what to do with it.
 

Some of the most experienced Empty Homes Officers in the country are based in the North East so local councils have established an Empty Property Forum to take a coordinated approach to reduce the number of empty homes and help tackle the housing shortage.
 

Susan Cousins, Chair of the forum said “We believe that leaving a property empty is a waste of a valuable resource.  We work with the owners to find out why the house is empty and provide the advice and support they need to bring their property back into use.  In the last year alone we have helped turn over 1,400 empty properties back into homes people can live in.

“We are committed to reducing the number of empty homes in our region and want to take positive action to achieve this but if we can’t find an owner or if they refuse to talk to use we will consider taking enforcement action.”

Northumberland County Councillor, Allan Hepple, cabinet member for housing, said: “We are supporting the national Empty Homes week to increase the focus on this important issue. The council is committed to bringing empty homes back into use, where they can benefit and improve a community.

“Empty properties can have a negative influence on the sustainability of an area, affecting everything from local businesses to public services, such as schools and transport. Working together with other councils in the North East means we can have an even greater impact on communities.”