Tenant favoured legislation having counter-productive effect…
Official statistics for empty homes around England, from November 2011, were 720,905 with 89.6% of those privately owned.
279,000 of these are long term empty, meaning they have been empty for more than 6 months.
The most empty homes recorded were first in the North West, with 131,395 empty, and the second highest amount were in the South East with 99,653 empty homes.
These statistics do not include Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, as well as uninhabitable homes, homes due for demolition or flats above shops – therefore the overall amount of empty homes in the UK is estimated to be 1 million, and rising.
So what is being done?
Tackling empty homes was one of the Coalition Government’s policy priorities. So as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010, the Government announced a £100m fund to bring empty homes back into use.
The Government followed this up by publishing its Housing Strategy on 21 November 2011, of which an important part is its strategy for tackling empty properties.
The strategy included details of the £100m capital funding from within the 2011-15 Affordable Homes Programme that had been set aside to tackle long-term empty properties which would not come back into use without additional financial intervention.
It is intended that this funding will deliver at least 3,300 Affordable Homes by March 2015.
£70m of this funding was assigned to the HCA to deliver a programme to bring empty properties back in to use as affordable housing. The remaining £30m has been made available to community and voluntary groups via a separate funding programme run by Tribal Education on behalf of DCLG.
We are starting to see this funding beginning to filter through in many pro-active ways, such as:
- Fresh Horizons, a social enterprise, has signed a deal with Connect Housing, the West Yorkshire Housing Association, to help bring empty homes into use as affordable housing.
Fresh Horizons, as part of the Engage partnership, aim to bring empty homes back into use in Huddersfield by using funding to renovate private owners empty properties. Once they are renovated they will then be used as social housing for at least 5 years and then sold on – whereby the proceeds for rent and sale will be split between Fresh Horizons Community Group and the property owner.
They aim to renovate 65 of Huddersfield’s empty properties by 2015 with this money.
- Stoke City Council have announced the first large scale homesteading programme in the UK in a decade.
Their programme will see empty homes sold to people on low incomes for £1 each. The homes are hard to let council houses and homes the council had previously acquired for regeneration schemes that can no longer go ahead.
Whilst Landlord Referencing Services welcome new initiatives and ideas to help the 2 million families on waiting lists find homes via the 1 million homes currently standing empty we cannot help but think that these measures are just scratching the surface, of an ever increasing problem.
What the UK needs is sustainable stock, coupled with advantageous legislation and tax breaks for private landlords.
Legislation weighted in favour of the tenant is actually having a counter-productive effect on tenants and actually causing them to become homeless.
This is because tenants believe these laws mean that they can get away with not paying rent but can continue to have a roof over their heads. But in reality these tenants are inevitably going to end up being evicted by their landlords, along with having a bad landlord reference and credit score because of this – which will only fuel the homeless crisis.
At Landlord Referencing Services we believe that if councils charged the same rents as private rented properties it would provide councils with higher yields, that could then be used to invest in the Private Rented Sector. The reason they do not have the money to do this is because subsidised rents only work for the people who receive disproportionate cheap housing.
How about subsidised housing being relative to an attachment of earnings and income year-on-year? Meaning that those who can pay rent would and those who genuinely cannot afford it would receive small subsidies…?
- Landlords, Letting Agents and Tenants; What do you think?
- What is your council doing to tackle the empty homes crisis?
- Are there empty homes in your area?
Please share your views and experiences with the LRS community!