Work with us to bring empty homes back into use

16 Oct 2017

The owners of long term empty homes are being asked to work with the Council to help meet some of the local demand for housing.

There are more than 650 long term empty properties across West Suffolk – these are properties that have been empty for six months or more, while nearly 200 of these have been empty for at least two years.

West Suffolk councils have published the figures as part of National Empty Homes Week (16 October to 22 October). It comes just a fortnight after St Edmundsbury Borough Council appealed to landlords to help it to try to accommodate those who are homeless in West Suffolk.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing for both Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “While I am sure that there are many personal reasons why a property may become empty for a while, it is also frustrating as we know that there is a real need for this housing. We have a housing register of 2378 people across West Suffolk – some of these are people looking to upsize or downsize or move into an area. But we also need landlords to work with us to provide housing. The Council simply can’t meet this need on its own.

“The owners are also missing out on rent. Our West Suffolk Lettings Partnership offers a guaranteed rental scheme and our landlord liaison officer would welcome the opportunity to discuss the services on offer.

“If it is the costs of repairing the property that is the barrier, then we also offer an Empty Homes Grant of up to £20,000 for essential works where the property has been empty for over a year. That could be ideal for a first time buyer taking on a fixer upper. We can also give the owners of these properties advice or point them in the direction of other services that may be able to help.

“That is the carrot, we also have the stick in the shape of a 150 per cent Council Tax charge on properties that have been empty for two or more years. The Council does have other powers to try to take over management of these properties to bring these homes back into use and although the number of empty homes has slowly been coming down in recent years, we will always keep these as an option where practical.”

For more on the Empty Homes Grant visit https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/housing/empty_houses/emptyhomesgrant.cfm or you can call 01638 719733 or 01284 757053 or email customer.services@westsuffolk.gov.uk

For more on the West Suffolk Lettings Partnership guaranteed rent scheme, visit https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/housing/privatehousing/wslp.cfm

The Empty Homes Grant is subject to conditions and repayable if the property is sold or transferred, if the owner fails to let or occupy the home, of if it becomes vacant for more than three months.

Below is a table showing the number of empty homes per district.

Council area Number of homes (homes that have been empty for more than 6 months) Number of these homes that have been empty for 2 years or more
Forest Heath 291 110
St Edmundsbury 364 89
Total for West Suffolk 655 199

The table below details the number of empty homes per town.

Town/village Number of homes in these that have been empty for two years or more
Brandon 12
Bury St Edmunds 25
Haverhill 15
Mildenhall 9
Newmarket 25
Villages across West Suffolk 113

People can report a property as empty using this link https://customer.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Pages/EmptyHouse.aspx

More information can be found at https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/housing/empty_houses/


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