Help to bring empty homes back to life

Cllr Daniel SutherlandDuring Empty Homes Week (15 – 21 October 2018), Calderdale Council is reminding people of the support it can offer to help bring empty properties back into use.

In Calderdale 1,530 homes have been empty for longer than six months, and the Council is committed to breathing new life back into them to help tackle the issue.

Empty homes can blight local communities, cause nuisance to residents and in some cases attract fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour such as vandalism. They can also create extra costs for the Council and other public services, diverting limited funds away from other valued services.

Cllr Daniel Sutherland, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing and Environment, said:

“There are a number of empty homes in Calderdale and we are urging empty home owners to come forward and take support from the Council to bring them back into use. For those who don’t, we will be taking a more rigorous approach in future.

“We know there are many different reasons why a home might be empty, but having properties being unused is unacceptable, especially when there are people in need of homes and those who are struggling to get on the housing ladder. ”

The Council’s Empty Homes Team provides advice and guidance about the different options available to owners to bring their properties back to life. Support includes:

  • Linking owners with potential buyers
  • Technical advice on essential repair and improvement work to make a home lettable
  • Information on how to rent a home, become a landlord and find a tenant
  • Advice on small interest-free loans to help towards the cost of repairs and improvements

The Council’s preference is always to work with homeowners to proactively resolve the issue of empty homes, but in some cases it has to use its enforcement powers to ensure owners of empty properties take action.

These powers could include the enforced sale of a property to cover the costs incurred by the Council for work including the removal of fly-tipping or the boarding up of windows and doors to secure the property.

One property in Ash Tree Gardens in Mixenden fell into a severe state of disrepair and began to attract anti-social behaviour, as well as continued costs to make it secure. An order for enforced sale was used to buy the home, which was then sold to a developer who carried out a full renovation for sale to bring the property back into use.

As a last resort, the Council may have to use Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to tackle more problematic empty properties, where owners fail to take any action to address the resulting issues which are being caused in the local community. CPOs are now being prepared for application on some long-term empty properties in Calderdale, after the owners have had support and time to return them to use but have not taken the required steps.

For support from Calderdale Council’s Empty Homes Team, please email under1roof@calderdale.gov.uk or call 01422 393185.