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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agents tell Housing Minister to 'get empty homes back in use'

NAEA Propertymark has written a letter to Housing Minister Christopher Pincher, asking what measures the government is taking to get more empty homes back into use.

The letter, penned by outgoing NAEA chief executive Mark Hayward, comes ahead of Empty Homes Week, which was due to take place from September 21 but has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

It quotes the latest government data which shows that over 216,000 homes in England have been empty for over six months, with a total of 600,000 homes currently vacant across the country.

Hayward notes that this total is significantly more than the government's current annual housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes.

He writes that empty homes are a 'wasted resource' and more needs to be done to get vacant properties on the market for prospective purchasers.

Bringing empty homes back into use would save substantial amounts of material, according to Hayward, while also minimising the amount of land used for development.

This could contribute towards combating climate change and reaching the government's net zero carbon target by 2050.

NAEA Propertymark, which represents over 18,000 agents, is also calling on Westminster to commission a study which focuses on the underlying cause of empty homes.

It says dealing with empty homes can save the government money by reducing temporary accommodation costs, saving on housing benefit in the rental sector and reducing the costs associated with living in poor quality and insecure accommodation.

"The government has stated that they will need to balance the books after the health crisis and we think looking to solve the empty homes problem could be one way of doing this, while also solving the issue of low house building," writes Hayward.

To this end, he also urges the government to restart the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme, which was discontinued in 2015.

The letter also notes that there are over 80,000 empty homes in the Band A Council Tax Band and that the government should consider long-term incentives such as stamp duty or council tax discounts to encourage empty homes being brought back into use.

You can read the letter in full here

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