Tougher action on long term empty home owners is among the measures announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond this week.
The announcement of an increase in council tax for landlords who allow properties to remain empty has been welcomed by Plymouth City Council, which is working hard to tackle the issue.
Councillor Steve Ricketts, Cabinet Member for Transport and Housing Delivery for Plymouth City Council, said: “We have been pushing for more to be done about empty homes for some time, and welcome the measures announced by the Chancellor, including plans to charge empty home owners an additional 100% council tax on top of their existing bill. This will be an even stronger disincentive for owners who choose to leave their properties empty.
“Empty homes are a wasted resource, they are unsightly, attract vandalism and anti-social behaviour, and can reduce the value of neighbouring properties by up to 20 per cent. There are around 750 empty homes in Plymouth and owners could be losing up to £10,000 per year in rent and even more in council tax and insurance premiums. We could also house around 50 per cent of families currently in emergency or high housing need if all the long term empty properties in the city were brought back into use as affordable housing.
“This is why we launched our #EmptyHomesPlym campaign in October 2017 to further promote the schemes and initiatives to help bring empty homes back into use in the city. As part of our Plan for Empty Homes we have a £1million Financial Assistance Fund which enables empty home owners who want to let their property but need a bit of help, to apply for an interest-free loan of up to £50,000 to help renovate their empty property. In addition to the financial assistance available, we also have a number of other schemes and initiatives to help and would urge any empty home owners who need help to get things moving to get in touch.
“Since we launched the campaign we have seen a surge in interest – both from empty home owners themselves and from residents reporting suspected empty homes. We have had triple the number of people coming through to our Empty Homes webpage compared to before the campaign, and we are getting around double the number of calls and enquiries every day compared to what we were getting.
“It is early days and this is a long term campaign, but we have an increasing number of empty homes enquiries that we are following up and we are delighted that three long term empty properties were recently sold at auction.
“Where necessary we will take tougher action on long term empty properties through enforced sales or compulsory purchase orders, however this is never our preferred route and would always be a last resort.”
For more information visit https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/emptyhomes or search #EmptyHomesPlym on Twitter or Facebook.