20 Jan 2017

Housing and Planning

Empty council houses brought back into use

Almost 150 extra empty council homes were brought back into use during 2016 after the new administration identified the need to reduce the number of vacant properties as a key priority.


New procedures within the council’s housing department have enabled the process of re-letting properties to become much quicker, therefore reducing the back log of empty homes in the city.


Properties must remain empty for a certain period when a tenancy ends and before a new tenant moves in to carry out necessary works and make sure the incoming tenant has a decent home to start their tenancy.


But a lot of work has been done to speed up this process and get homes back into use much quicker.


In 2015/16 1,392 council homes were re-let and in the first three quarters of 2016/17 1,068 properties were re-let.


During the third quarter of 2015/16 the team reduced the average repair period from 52 days to 38 days for major works and 38 days to 21 days for standard repairs.


Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, said: “'Reducing the number of empty homes has the same impact as building more housing.


“We have got half way to our target of bringing 250 homes back into use in less than one year. This means more homes available for local people, more rent collected and reduced costs of empty homes.


“Having houses sat empty is a ridiculous waste when the city is in the middle of a housing crisis and we have to do all we can to reduce the amount of time properties stand empty.”

The time a property will stay empty will vary depending on the level of works required to bring it up to standard.


Sometimes there are also reasons homes may appear empty, for example if the council has to take legal action to end a tenancy when the previous tenant has abandoned the home.


The new ways of working in the housing service aim to keep tenants in their homes and reduce ‘unnecessary’ tenancy turn over and failed tenancies.


Improvements have also been made to make things more efficient when a tenancy is coming to an end. This involves the inspection process and issues such as managing storage.