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Orbis Protect sponsors new ‘Rising Star’ Award

We are pleased to announce that Orbis Protect is sponsoring a new ‘Rising Star’ Award as part of this year’s Empty Homes Awards. This award is intended to recognise and reward emerging empty homes practitioners who have made significant contributions over a short period of time.

Louis Fordham, Orbis Protect - Business Development Director for the Social Housing Sector, said:

Help! BBC programme makers seek projects to highlight in forthcoming series

Can you help production company Two Four source interesting empty homes projects to highlight in a forthcoming series for the BBC?

Based on what we know so far, this is an excellent opportunity to highlight the contribution that empty homes practitioners make or to reveal issues we face.

Over to Vicki Pratt of Two Four:

EHA 2.0 launches new campaign

The campaigning charity Empty Homes (previously the Empty Homes Agency and soon to be 'Action on Empty Homes') has initiated a major new 'Campaign for Community Investment' that lobbies for capital investment in areas with higher numbers of empty homes.

Lords amendment proposes Empty Homes Premium escalator

The House of Lords has inserted an amendment into the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill that introduces an escalator into the amount of Empty Homes Premium payable according to how long a dwelling has been empty.  The amendment was supported by the government which suggests that it will be accepted in the Commons.

Hello, Goodbye, Hello - Kit Malthouse new Housing Minister

Recently-appointed Dominic Raab has been replaced as Minister of State for Housing by Kit Malthouse, now the eighth minister to hold the housing portfolio in 8 years. 

Given the normally short-term nature of such appointments, there seems little point in devoting serious brain-power to anything that might be called 'research' into the latest incumbent of the role. As an alternative, here are some useful links:

Community Housing Fund launched

The government has launched a £163 million fund to support community-led affordable housing. The scheme is being administered by Homes England (the successor to the Homes and Communities Agency) and bids are invited under a 'continuous market engagement' process that will continue until all the money has been allocated or December 2019, whichever comes first.

Crucially, the Prospectus makes it clear that the scheme is available for conversions and refurbishment:

Tracing agent research indicates local authority confusion

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 scoops Regeneration Award

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.

Resolution Foundation proposes surcharge on empties and second homes

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.

New EHA report highlights community-based approaches

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.

Scotland explores Compulsory Sale Orders for abandoned land and buildings

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.

Raab announces boost for rural conversions

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:

Action needed as number of long-term empties rises - EHA

The charity Empty Homes has issued a press release calling for more to be done about empty homes as the number has risen for the first time since 2008.

The press release is reproduced below:

ACTION NEEDED AS NUMBER OF LONG-TERM EMPTY HOMES RISES FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2008

The campaigning charity Empty Homes calls for Government action as the number of long-term empty homes recorded in official data rose in 2017 for the first time since 2008.

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