A total of 20 empty homes have been brought back into use across the district by Canterbury City Council over the past 12 months.
This represents 25 per cent of the 82 empty properties on the live list that the council is actively investigating.
Officers from the Private Sector Housing team pulled together a database which identified 1,025 empty properties to be targeted. Of those, 786 have been investigated by officers, which can involve visiting the property, speaking to neighbours, carrying out Land Registry searches, liaising with lenders and sending letters to owners offering help and advice.
A total of 704 properties needed no further action because they were occupied, were up for sale or rent, were being refurbished or were mobile homes or caravans. A further 239 are waiting to be investigated.
Vice Chairman of the Community Committee, Cllr Joe Howes, said: “Empty homes are a waste of valuable housing resource and can become a real nuisance to those living nearby. Bringing properties back into use is a priority for the council and it is just one of a number of things we’re doing to tackle the growing housing need within the district.”
As well as giving people somewhere to live, getting an empty home occupied again has a number of benefits including:
- Preventing a property from being vandalised or falling into further disrepair
- Allowing the owner to sell the property or earn a rental income
- Stopping it adversely affecting the price of neighbouring houses and attracting anti-social behaviour
- Boosting the local economy because the new occupants will spend money in local shops
Cllr Howes added: “Over the coming months, the team will continue to investigate the remaining properties on the database with a focus on making people aware of the help that is available, including from Kent County Council’s No Use Empty loan scheme.
“The team will also start to tackle the more challenging cases using appropriate enforcement powers where needed.”
As well as bringing empty homes back into use, over this period the council has also:
- Bought 110 homes which are now council homes for social rent
- Launched its social lettings agency to bring together those in housing need with landlords
- Bought an uninhabitable property in Herne Bay, the Tivoli, in order to refurbish it and provide quality housing
- Secured planning permission for 16 homes to be built on Kingsmead Field, five of which will be homes for families on the waiting list
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