A major report published by Anglia Research reveals a considerable amount of uncertainty, inconsistency and questionable practice amongst local authorities using probate researchers (or 'tracing agents'). For empty homes practitioners seeking to use tracing agents to locate missing owners, the report highlights some of the risks involved and the need for due diligence and robust procedures to control those risks. It warrants close reading.
Kent's No Use Empty (NUE) initiative scooped the award for ‘Outstanding approach to regeneration’ at the UK Housing Awards event at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in central London.
The UK Housing Awards, run by Inside Housing and the Chartered Institute of Housing, is the largest and longest running awards in the sector and is now in its third decade.
The 23rd report from the Intergenerational Commission, entitled A New Generational Contract, includes surcharges on second and empty homes as part of its 10 main policy recommendations.
Recommendation number 6 reads:
Replace council tax with a progressive property tax with surcharges on second and empty properties; halve stamp duty rates to encourage moving; and offer a time-limited capital gains tax cut to incentivise o of additional properties to sell to rst-time buyers.
Empty Homes, the national campaigning charity, has a project to spread community-based regeneration in areas with high levels of empty homes. We are following demonstration projects where community-based organisations are bringing empty homes into use in areas with high levels of empty homes. We want to share their experiences and encourage other organisations to look at how community-based regeneration could work in such neighbourhoods to tackle the underlying causes of empty homes.
In the wake of Amber Rudd's resignation as Home Secretary, Sajid Javid been appointed in her place and has in turn been succeeded by James Brokenshire. Brokenshire was previously Secretary for Northern Ireland, a role from which he stepped down four months ago in order to receive treatement for lung cancer.
The Information Commissioner has shown where her sympathies lie by slapping a massive £120,000 money penalty on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for accidentally revealing the names of owners of empty homes in the Borough, along with the addresses of the homes concerned.
Having led the way with Empty Homes Premium, Scotland may well be en route to develop a new device for the empty homes toolkit in the form of Compulsory Sale Orders. These would be targeted at 'vacant, derelict and empty land', but in principle this would seem to include empty dwellings.
Following written Parliamentary questions from Labour's Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey, about the housing situation of Grenfell survivors, Dominic Raab has provided a detailed breakdown in what is described as a 'holding answer':
Farmers are being given enhanced options for converting agricultural buildings to homes through an extension of Permitted Development Rights. These allow owners to effect a change of use without needing full planning permission.
The amended development right for the change of use of agricultural buildings to provide up to 5 new homes will allow for:
The charity Empty Homes is now recruiting a replacement for current director, Helen Williams, who is leaving after four years. It is understood she will be taking up a senior role at Locality.
The announcement on the Empty Homes Agency website says: