Propertymark pushes on with empty homes drive

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Being told that the problem of empty homes is a matter for local rather than central government has not dulled ARLA Propertymark’s commitment pushing for action on this ‘pressing issue’.

The letting agents’ body had called on the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to take action on empty houses. 

Latest UK Government data shows that over 216,000 homes in England have been empty for over six months. In total, over 600,000 homes are currently vacant in England, more than the UK Government’s housebuilding target of 300,000 per year, it said.

‘Propertymark believes empty homes are a wasted resource and more needs to be done to get vacant properties back on the market for would-be home buyers or landlords’.

It suggested restarting the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme, commissioning a study to better understand the underlying cause of homes being left empty, and providing long-term incentives to bring empty homes back into use.

The response from Government, said Propertymark, was to say that it is for local housing authorities to decide when to use their powers to deal with empty properties. They have the flexibility to focus on locally determined priorities and allocate their resources accordingly, it was told.

‘The Government believes legislating various powers for local authorities to use accordingly, strikes the right balance between encouraging better use of the existing housing stock and having no unintended consequences’.

But Propertymark said it is not giving up. Over half of councils with high levels of long-term empty homes say there should be a speedier process for obtaining compulsory purchase orders and more needs to be done to ensure local authorities can work with owners to bring properties back into use, it said.

‘Propertymark will continue to raise these matters with the UK Government and politicians as we believe this is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed’.