The three-year strategy, which was agreed at a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet on Monday (11th March), sets out how the council will bring empty properties back into use to provide decent and affordable accommodation, mainly in the private rented sector.
Empty Homes Agency statistics show that there were 1,441 empty homes across Mendip in 2011, of which 445 had been empty for at least six months.
The strategy identifies how the council aims to reduce this number by working with the local community and partners and explores the legal options available to the council to bring empty properties back in to use.
Options for the council to bring empty homes back into use include:
Working with Somerset Care and Repair – Working in partnership with Somerset Care and Repair, interest-free loans are given to homeowners to improve the standard of their property in exchange for its lease. If owners do not want to lease they have the option of letting the property through the council’s new not-for-profit lettings agency.
New Lettings Agency – The lettings agency, which will be run independently from the council, is being set up to tackle homelessness and help vulnerable people secure long-term accommodation within the local area.
Enforced Sale – Where the council has served formal notices relating to a property and has had to spend money repairing it and bringing it up to standard (for example, if it is in a dangerous condition). The council can then take legal action through the courts to recover costs and enforce the sale of the property, bringing it back into use.
Empty Dwelling Management Orders – These orders give local authorities the power to take over management of a long-term empty property for up to seven years to ensure that it becomes, and remains, occupied. This process would only be pursued in exceptional circumstances.
Sally Taylor, Mendip District Council’s empty homes officer, said: “Mendip District Council is committed to tackling the issue of empty homes and working with the owners of these properties to bring them back into use.
“This new strategy sets out our objectives and how we will go about reducing the number of empty homes in the district.”
Cllr Nigel Woollcombe-Adams, portfolio holder for built environment, said: “Housing is a key priority for the council and we are determined to tackle the issue of empty homes.
“There are far too many properties standing empty in Mendip, properties which, if they became available to buy or rent, could transform the lives of individuals and families desperately looking for a decent and affordable home.”
If you have or know of an empty home that you would like to see brought back into use contact Sally Taylor, empty homes officer, on 01749 341410 or [email protected]
You can view the new Empty Homes Strategy on the council’s website at www.mendip.gov.uk