Empty Property

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage housing authorities to (1) bring vacant houses into use, and (2) rehabilitate structurally sound buildings for social renting.

Photo of The Earl of Courtown The Earl of Courtown Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

Local authorities are equipped with a range of powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Through the New Homes Bonus, they earn the same financial reward for bringing an empty home back into use as for building a new one. This includes social housing and there is an additional premium for every affordable home delivered. Billing authorities have the discretion to charge up to 100 per cent extra council tax – on top of the standard bill – on properties that have been empty for at least two years.

In certain circumstances, local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) to temporarily take over the management of a property that has been empty for more than two years and bring it back into use. Local authorities have a variety of compulsory purchase powers which they can use to acquire and develop derelict or empty property, including for housing purposes. However, compulsory purchase is intended for use as a last resort and there must always be a compelling case in the public interest.

The Estate Regeneration National Strategy good practice guide (published December 2016) supports social housing landlords. It sets out the importance of assessing the estate, including over and under occupancy and opportunities for further development. We have also given local housing authorities the tools to deliver a new generation of council housing by removing the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap.

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