Whilst the Conservative goverment at Westminster removed empty homes from the policy landscape in the wake of the 2015 General Election (following the complete absence of the issue from the Tory election manifesto) the issue is alive and kicking amongst Scottish Conservatives. Partly no doubt thanks to Shelter Scotland's successful Empty Homes Partnership, there seems to be a a broad-based, cross-party consensus about the need for central (in this case, Scottish) government to play its part.
Every year, at the National Empty Homes Conference, we present awards to recognise excellence in empty homes work. One of the most coveted awards is that for Empty Homes Practitioner of the Year.
We are proud that this year's award is sponsored by Kent's No Use Empty partnership, led by Kent County Council.
Preparations are well in hand for the national Empty Homes Conference to be held in Birmingham on Wednesday 24th May.
A strong line-up has just been boosted by news that Martin Yardley, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, is going speak - the programme will be amended shortly.
Christopher Frank Skinner
Chris Skinner died on 14 February on his 59th birthday at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, close to his home in Hethersett.
Chris had been in hospital since late December suffering from Guillain Barré syndrome and his sudden death was as a result of complications.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced a number of small changes to compulsory purchase procedures, which have little impact in relation to the compulsory acquisition of empty homes. There were, however, two provisions which are of greater note. One allows the Secretary of State to delegate to an inspector the decision whether or not to confirm a contested CPO. The other provides for the Secretary of State to specify time limits for making decisions on contested CPOs.
The Housing White Paper will be the subject of extensive comment in the housing press and national newspapers and this is not the place for a comprehensive treatment. Probably, the consensus amongst housing and planning professionals will be that the proposals outlined in the White Paper lack bite and will therefore have no significant impact on the housing market.
News stories in the Bristol Post have been reporting a potentially landmark case, the outcome of which hinges on whether Property Guardians are licensees or tenants. The guardian in this case is resisting an eviction order on the basis that the guardians each have a lockable room and therefore have exclusive possession, regardless of what the occupation agreement might say. Camelot is relying in part on the 'licence agreement' to assert that the occupants are licensees.
An alert has been issued by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau's Proactive Intelligence Team highlighted the issue of fraud associated with empty homes where owners have died. Criminal gangs are referring to obituaries and then carrying out careful research to identify homes that they might be able to raise loan finance against. The exact mechanisms are not explained, for obvious reasons.
We have analysed the provisional NHB allocations for 2017-18 to try and gauge the impact of the changes in the NHB regime. To do this we have combined the provisional allocations table with more detailed data extracted from the current year's NHB calculator. The results are contained in an analysis that you can find in our Information Library here. This is for Full Members only so you will need to be logged in to access it.
The key things to remember when getting to grips with the figures are: