Fenland Council working to bring empty homes back into residential use
As the number of long-term empty homes increases nationally, work is continuing in Fenland to help address the issue.
With housing in short supply, Fenland District Council has been taking action in a number of ways to help bring unused properties back into residential use.
The Council’s dedicated Empty Homes Officer, with support from the Private Sector Housing team, has assisted in bringing over 280 properties back into use in Fenland since April 2020.
A new report published by the Local Government Association and the Empty Homes Network this week has revealed that the number of long-term empty properties has risen nationally by nearly 10 percent over the past five years. Data shows that more than one million properties across England in 2022 were unoccupied, an increase of nearly 60,000 homes since 2018.
Bringing empty homes back into use is a top priority for Fenland District Council, as Cllr Sam Hoy, cabinet member for housing, explains:
“Unfortunately, some properties are left empty for long periods of time, often getting into a state of disrepair and attracting anti-social behaviour, when they could be providing much-needed accommodation to people living in Fenland.
“We’re working hard to reduce the number of empty properties in Fenland, and tackling the issues associated with them. Not only does bringing homes back into use increase the housing supply, but it also improves communities and provides a better quality of life for residents and neighbours who live near empty homes.
“We know there is still more work that needs to be done and we will be continuing to work closely with owners, landlords and the local community to identify other properties where we can offer help, to provide these homes with a new lease of life.”
The Council can offer a range of advice and assistance, including free property assessments, support with applications, approvals, lettings, and sale processes, and can suspend the premium Council Tax charge on newly purchased properties that have been empty for two or more years.
The Council also has a Problem Property working group; a cross-team collaboration that meets to target more difficult empty properties in the district. The team explores the best powers and enforcement routes to break the impasse that leads to properties falling into disrepair.