All the news stories on our site

Council tax exemption B case clarifies the rules

A recent court High Court ruling clarifies the position regarding the rules around Council Tax Exemption Class "B" and suggests that it will be very easy for charitable housing assocations or other charitable bodies to benefit from the exemption, regardless of the rent charged in most cases.

For the record, Exemption Class "B" reads as follows:

"a dwelling owned by a body established for charitable purposes only, which is unoccupied and has been so for a period of less than 6 months and was last occupied in furtherance of the objects of the charity"

Scotland launches Town Centre Empties Fund

The Scottish government has launched a new £4million fund to help address empty homes and commercial properties in town centres. The funding can be used to bring long-term empty homes back into use or to convert redundant commercial properties into housing. As with the predecessor scheme, the Scottish Empty Homes Loan Fund, the homes produced must be affordable.

There is little detail available about the Town Centre Empty Homes Fund at the moment. The press release states simply that it

Pickles plucks Liver Bird's feathers

[The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not those of the Empty Homes Network]

It's back to the drawing board for the powers that be in Liverpool following Eric Pickles' decision[1] to over-rule his Planning Inspector and refuse the CPO and planning permission that would have allowed the redevelopment of the "Welsh Streets" to go ahead.

Massive boost for Scottish Empty Homes Partnership

The Scottish government has provided a massive boost to the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, both extending the funding for a further 3 years and expanding the available resource by a further 1.5 posts.

Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess announced the move on 23rd December. The story published on the Scottish Goverment website describes the initiative in more detail:

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) will receive a three year extension backed by an additional £616,500 from the Scottish Government.

Empty Homes Conference set for 20th May

We've now set the date for the 2015 National Empty Homes Conference, and the first speakers have already been booked. It will be held in Birmingham on Wednesday, 20th May at Maple House, our third year at this spacious and comfortable venue.

Helen Williams will be appearing to give us vital insight from her perspective as Chief Executive of the Empty Homes Agency; and Andrew Lavender will be offering his invaluable surgeries.

Community Grants Programme meeting details finalised

Time flies and the EHCGP comes to an end on March 31st.. As part of our efforts to make the case for more some more funding, self-help-housing.org and HACT are running two events in February , looking at what has been achieved through the DCLG’s £50m Empty Homes Community Grants Programme. One will be in London looking at the national picture, while the other will take place in Hull and will concentrate on what’s been achieved in Yorks. & Humberside and the North East and on the recent research that is ongoing.

South Tyneside forges ahead with EDMOs

A recent press release from South Tyneside Council captures the excellent work being done in the area through the use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs), and is reproduced below:

More neglected properties have been given a new lease of life by South Tyneside Council.

Privately owned houses which have fallen into disrepair have been seized by the council and renovated so they can be brought back into use.

Last year, 11 properties in the St Paul’s area of Jarrow were given a facelift and are now all rented out to tenants.

Provisional New Homes Bonus figures released - empties down again

The provisional New Homes Bonus figures for 2015-16 show another 10,153 long-term empties returned to use or otherwise removed from the total recorded on the Council Tax Base returns.

The figures are accessible from the government's New Homes Bonus page and were welcomed by Stephen Williams, MP, as reported in the DCLG press release:

EHN Christmas Quiz

In the spirit of the festive season, I have cooked up EHN's first ever Christmas quiz, featuring absolutely no prizes for the first person to submit the right answers.

1. In which year did “The Great British Property Scandal” first appear on Channel 4?

A. 2010.

B. 2011.

C. 1983.

2. David Ireland was awarded what honour in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours?

A. MBE.

B. OBE.

C. BBies.

Rochdale launches loan scheme for Empty Homes Week

Loan schemes often suffer from a lack of attention to detail, leaving councils scratching their heads as to why they can't seem to give the money away.

A new scheme launched by Rochdale Council to mark Empty Homes Week is a good example of how a detailed awareness of owners' needs helps shape the product to make it attractive without at the same time squandering public money.

Revised draft of EHN policy position paper published

In response to members' comments in our online forum, a revised discussion draft of the EHN Policy Position paper has been published, downloadable from our library here.

To allow time for responses to the revised draft, the EHN Executive has accepted a revision of the deadline to 18th December 2014 with the expectation that the final version will be published at the beginning of 2015. The draft will also be discussed at our Executive meeting on Wednesday, 10th December.

EHA to launch new campaign

Campaigning charity the Empty Homes Agency is gearing up to launch its new campaign to bring down the number of empty homes. The main public launch of the campaign will be during Empty Homes Week, which runs from 1st to 5th December 2014, but emails have already been sent to council Leaders today with a view to getting local authorities to pledge support to the new initiative formally.

Helen Williams, Chief Executive of the EHA, has copied to EHN the email sent to council Leaders, which reads as follows:

Empty Homes Week 2014 - 1st December to 5th December

Helen Williams, Chief Executive of the campaigning charity Empty Homes Agency, has announced the dates for this year's Empty Homes Week - from the Monday 1st to Friday 5th December 2014.

An announcement on the Empty Homes Agency website reads

The Empty Homes Agency is encouraging all those working to bring empty homes back into use to make the most of this week to publicise the good work that they are doing and to make the case for plans to bring long-term empty homes back into being a priority both locally and nationally.

Pages