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Agents tell Gove empty homes could solve stock shortage

Agents have told Housing Secretary Michael Gove that his Levelling Up agenda needs to include positive efforts to bring hundreds of thousands of empty homes back into use.

In a letter from Propertymark’s campaigns and policy director Timothy Douglas, the Housing Secretary is told that empty homes are a wasted resource at a time when the housing market is in the grip of unsustainably low levels of stock for sale and for rent.

The latest data shows that vacant dwellings account for almost three per cent of the total dwelling stock in England. Over 235,000 homes have been empty for over six months and there are over 600,000 vacant homes, more than double the UK government’s annual housebuilding target. 


The letter from Douglas says: “Action is needed on empty homes as they can lower land values and make it harder to sell other properties nearby. Bringing empty homes back into use can also ease the pressure on existing housing stock and help improve local communities. In addition, we know that an increasing number of short- term lets in certain parts of the country are removing much needed homes to rent and buy.”

In particular he calls for a series of measures to be taken by Gove in the short term.

- Restart the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme - this was in place until 2015 and funded community groups to bring empty homes back into use. Douglas writes: “It is vital that there are avenues available for people and local authorities to buy, lease and refurbish empty homes as well as provide affordable housing. Additionally, many Councils report that there should be a speedier process for obtaining compulsory purchase orders on long-term empty homes. Consequently, more needs to be done to ensure local authorities can work with owners to bring properties back into use.”

- Introduce incentives to repair and improve empty homes - owners’ inability to fund repairs if often the main reason as to why homes remain empty. “It is vital that the UK Government introduce long-term financial incentives to encourage empty homes back into use. This must include removing VAT on home and energy efficiency improvements as well as discounts or exemptions to Council Tax and Stamp Duty when empty properties are purchased and utilised. “

- Extend Levelling Up White Paper high street rejuvenation proposals - explore a scheme to target owners of empty homes, similar to the one in the Levelling Up White Paper that sets out an intention to give councils powers that will place a requirement on landlords to find tenants for long-term vacant commercial properties in town and city centres. “This way owners of long-term empty homes would be required to use the property to live in, rent out or put on the market for sale.”

  • August Vachitravit

    august vachiravit 31081996


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