To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent estimate he has made of the number of empty residential properties in (a) Coventry North East constituency, (b) Coventry, (c) the West Midlands and (d) England; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure that empty residential properties in those areas do not fall into disrepair and can return into productive use.
Local authorities have powers and strong incentives to tackle empty homes. Through the New Homes Bonus, they receive the same amount for bringing an additional empty home back into use over a baseline threshold as building a new one
Billing authorities in England also have the power to charge up to 100% extra council tax - on top of the standard bill - on properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for at least two years, up to 200% extra on properties that have been empty for at least five years, and up to 300% extra on properties that have been empty for at least 10 years
In certain circumstances, local authorities can exercise powers to take over the management of long-term empty homes in order to bring them back into use in the private rented sector. Local authorities can apply for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) when a property has been empty for more than two years, subject to the production of evidence that the property has been causing a nuisance to the community and evidence of community support for their proposal
Grant funding is also available through the Affordable Homes Programme to bring empty homes back into use. Empty properties must not be existing social housing owned by the Registered Provider or by another Registered Provider
It is for local housing authorities to decide when to use their powers to deal with empty properties, and they have the flexibility to focus on locally determined priorities and allocate their resources accordingly.