St Albans Councils conducts emty homes audit
By JulieGK | Monday, October 08, 2012, 13:47
St Albans District Council is undertaking an audit of private empty homes in the district to find out how they can be brought back into use.
Do you know of any empty home in St Albans.
There is an acute need for housing locally and Council Tax records show that up to 350 privately-owned homes are unoccupied.
The council's new Empty Homes Officer is visiting the properties to identify what needs to be done to make them suitable for occupation. Armed with this information, she is contacting the owners and encouraging them to repair the properties where needed and make them available for use.
Over the last six weeks, 20% of the empty privately owned homes have been visited and their owners contacted where possible. Some of these owners have already agreed to obtain building estimates and time-scales to bring the property back in use.
If no agreement is reached we will, in some circumstances, consider enforcement action. The Council has access to a range of powers, including the ability to order the owner to make the property safe and secure.
Councillor Brian Ellis, Portfolio Holder for Housing for St Albans City and District Council, said: "Our Empty Homes Officer is working with owners of properties that have been empty for some time, or are in disrepair, to bring them back into use. This is a lengthy but worthwhile process that will result in more homes being made available for people to occupy."
The council is also working in partnership with the local branch of the Emmaus charity to bring homes back into use. The charity provides housing for homeless people and work restoring and selling second-hand furniture. It has funding to renovate empty local properties to provide people staying in its shared accommodation the opportunity for independent living.
As part of the scheme, owners of suitable empty properties will get financial help from Emmaus to bring their empty homes back into use. Owners will then receive a rental income equivalent to the Local Housing Allowance from tenants who previously lived in the Emmaus community."
If you would like to find out more about the scheme, or know of an empty house that has fallen into disrepair, please contact our Empty Homes Officer Cliona Goold on 01727 819447 or email firstname.lastname@example.org