Friday, 13 January 2017

Empty homes and affordable housing in Sidmouth

This blog has considered the vexed issue of 'empty homes' in the area:
Futures Forum: Housing crisis in East Devon - what housing crisis? ... "Evidence for a housing shortage is hard to come by."
Futures Forum: Tens of thousands of empty houses in the West Country is "a scandal"

The District Council holds very specific information - and has very specific policies:

Empty Homes Strategy

The UK’s housing market is still struggling under a combination of increasing demand for property and a reduced ability to supply from the construction sector.

With so many pressures on both private sector and social housing it is imperative that we make the best use of existing stock. As there are over 250,000 properties in England which remain empty for longer than six months, it is essential that these properties should be brought back into use to help with the increased demand for housing.

Returning empty homes into use is cheaper and faster than building new properties, generates less than one-fifth of the carbon dioxide created in building new homes; removes empty homes as as source of community blight; helps neighbours with problem properties next door to them; provides empty homes owners with an income through letting or selling and, finally, provides a home for a family.

The financial crisis continues to take a very heavy toll on construction of new homes, and despite government estimates that England’s housing stock needs to grow by 232,000 homes per year until 2033 in order to meet the estimated demand this is not being fulfilled.

The lack of available homes is exacerbated by other factors. Firstly, it is anticipated that the available supply of council housing may diminish due to the changes to the ‘Right to Buy’ (RTB) discounts and the number of RTB applications and sales in East Devon District Council have shown a marked increase since 2010, in 2013 – 14 approximately 50 applications were received.

Bringing empty properties back into use, nationally, would supply the equivalent of one year’s worth of newly built homes.

East Devon District Council’s goal is to help provide decent homes so that people can live and work in East Devon. One of the major aims in The Council Plan 2012 – 2016 (pre-refresh in 2014) under ‘Living in this outstanding place’ is ‘.... ensuring that people can live in some of the empty homes in the district’.

In a large district which has both urban and rural areas, identifying empty homes is one of the challenges faced by the council. By making the general public aware of the problems empty homes cause, we hope to encourage people to report empty homes to the council.

This plan sets out how we are working with owners of long term empty properties to return these properties back into use.

With the support and co-operation of the public, the engagement of empty home owners and the resources available, we hope to facilitate and speed up the process of bringing empty homes back into use.

Empty Homes Strategy - Introduction - East Devon

The District Council encourages the public to report any empty homes:
About empty homes - East Devon

In the last couple of days, there has been a conversation on the subject at Streetlife:

Empty residential properties!

Grumpy Gramp  in Sidmouth

Sorry, Soapbox time!
Why are there so many empty houses & bungalows in Sidmouth?
We continuously here of the need for more new builds to relieve the UK housing crisis but has anyone stopped to look at what is actually available around us?
I currently know of at least 3 empty properties in my road alone. They are obviously owned by someone somewhere but appear in know hurry to sell or occupy.
There may be very good reasons why they are still empty (sometimes for many years) but it does the neighbourhood no good at all. Any empty property degrades internally and externally looks quite sad.
Anyone else know of long term empty properties where they live?

Sadly Sidmouth is going the same way as many seaside towns in the south west, as I grow older the number seems to be increasing steadily. Lots of reasons though, people grow old, move out but no incentive to sell, and think I'll move back sometime. Some just straightforward investment waiting for prices to rise, or a time when they're ready to convert back to cash. Waiting to be turning into holiday lets, if they aren't already. Sometimes a difficult probate can last for years, I know of one place previously empty for at least 5 years for that reason. Lots of reasons, but more common at this end of the country now.
Angie Carney  
Because someone has gone into residential care and their family couldn't get power of attorney and so the house can't be let or sold? That's been the case for us and it's been very frustrating.
tricky dicky 
Go to EDDC website and the section - Report an empty property. The council have powers to work with the owner to either sell the property, bring it up to rental standard and if this fails, to take the property over and let it out until the owner decides what to do with it.
We contacted the Council about a property that has been empty for 20 or so years when looking to buy our first home last year. The person we spoke with was aware that it is empty and said they have had many people contact them about it. The house in question is starting to look very tired with windows beginning to rot. The neighbours keep the garden tidy and there are timed lights inside (they have had attempt break ins).

Long and short of it is that the owner can choose to leave it empty. The Council can only do something if the property is very seriously deteriorating and the owner is ignoring their requests to maintain it. They must have a reason but it is a real shame when it's already so difficult to find affordable properties in Sidmouth!

Streetlife | Empty residential properties!

No comments: