The Republic of Ireland's Housing Agency has produced a report that explores the possibility of a national empty homes strategy for the Republic. The report draws on the experience of strategies and programmes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including for example that of Wales, but a strategy for an independent sovereign nation would be a an exciting precedent, where Ireland could well develop an exemplar from which we could all learn.
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Leeds City Council has decided to provide a further 3-years' worth of funding to the Empty Homes Strategy, focusing on the Holbeck area of the city.
According to a recent story on Orbis's website, 700 squatters have been arrested since squatting of residential properties was criminalised in September 2012.
The story claims that 148 arrests were made in 2015, bringing the overall total up to 736 since the provisions of the Act went live.The story notes that many of those charged were also charged with other offences.
Gavin Barwell, M.P. for Croydon Central, is to replace Brandon Lewis as the Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department of Communities and Local Government. He is also to be Minister for London.
Barwell became an M.P. in 2010 and has previously been a junior member of the government, including as Parliamentary Private Secretary for Greg Clark. Greg Clark has also moved on, to be replaced as Communities Secretary by Savid Javid.
Research funded by the Nationwide Foundation and conducted by a team from Empty Homes [Agency] makes a strong case for delivering affordable housing through conversions of empty commercial spaces.
'Very informative - put me down for next year' was a typical feedback comment from a delegate to the 2016 Empty Homes Conference in Birmingham.
The average number of stars awarded by delegates was 4.53 out of 5, maintaining the level of satisfaction seen in previous years. And despite austerity, the numbers attending were only marginally lower than in 2015.
Property industry charity Landaid has awarded £1.3million in grants to projects to provide housing for young homeless people by bringing empty homes back into use.
There were 57 applications for the available grant, and awards were made to 15 projects, including World Habitat Award winners Canopy. Canopy's £80,000 grant will enable them to refurbish three properties and provide housing for six young homeless people.
The final award for 2015 that remains to be highlighted before we invite submissions for the 2016 Awards is the Most Innovative Intervention Award, sponsored by Carson Millican, trading as Empty Property Solutions Ltd. (and contactable by email if you'd like to find out more).
As we approach the 2016 Empty Homes Awards season, it's worth refreshing memories with a look back at last year's awards.
We've already covered the Practitioner of the Year Award and the Best Local Authority / Community Housing Organisation Awards, but we haven't given the details of last year's award for the best partnership between a local authority and a housing assocation.
DCLG and HM Treasury are consulting on further changes to the compulsory purchase legislation. Most of the changes do not seem to affect empty homes work but important changes to the arrangements for basic loss adjustment seem to offer some hope that CPOs of eyesore empties could become cheaper - depending exactly how the rules might be interpreted.
The Empty Homes Network has published a brief document inviting the candidates in the election for London Mayor to consider the development of a London-wide Empty Homes Initiative.
No Stone Unturned - subtitled 'An Empty Homes Initiative for London' - identifies numerous benefits of a regional approach, citing the initiatives in Kent, Scotland and Wales as exemplars.
Two leading self-help housing organisations from have scooped World Habitat Awards in the 2015-16 competition. Girsocope and Canopy, both well-known for their innovative approaches to tackling empty homes, offered a joint submission under the heading "Self-Help Housing in the North of England". They were announced as winners on the 29th February (along with a Puerto Rican Community Land Trust).
Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Anglesey, Conwy, Ceredigion, Powys, Gwynedd and Flintshire are the first Welsh Local Authorities looking at implementing a 50% council tax premium on empty and second homes for 2017/18. Councils must make the declaration by 1st April 2016 to begin charging in 2017/18.
In a major departure from accepted practice, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has released details of empty properties following a Freedom of Information request. The main local newspaper, the Royal Borough Observer, reported a significant backlash against the council's move in a recent story.
Speaking at the Goverment Property Conference this morning, Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, announced that provisions were to be included in the Housing and Planning Bill that would required all local authorities to publish lists of their "surplus assets". This is to include all council homes empty for over 6 months and other buildings empty over 2 years.
What has Pay to Stay got to do with empty properties I hear you ask? Well from a southern perspective possibly very little, but the further you go north the more there is a relationship between the two.