Bristol City Council is bringing empty properties back to life by working with a range of partners to put the homes back to good use.
The properties form part of a pool of 91 homes which were purchased largely during the 1960s and 70s and some have been empty for up to two years. These are largely terraced houses in need of complete renovation and refurbishment. Half of these properties now have tenants and the remainder are expected to be let by early spring.
So far six homes have been leased to charities and social enterprises including Ashley Community Housing and 1625 Independent People. The council has granted 10 year leases at minimal rents in exchange for the organisations completing the renovation work required and managing the properties for homeless households or to provide commissioned services. A further 20 have been allocated to housing partners with works due to be completed and the homes occupied by the end of April 2018.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “The lack of enough suitable housing is one of the biggest challenges facing Bristol and tackling this is not just about building new homes. It’s also about bringing empty properties back into use, so we’ve made this a priority. We are looking at innovative ways to work with partner organisations to help us achieve this goal as no property should be standing empty if we can avoid it.”
Cllr Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for homes and communities said: “When we have a national housing crisis and a huge local demand for homes we need to be looking at this issue from every angle. We want to hear from organisations who’d like to work with us on getting empty properties back into use. We recognise the value of taking a collaborative approach to tackling this issue so our door is open. We inherited a policy of auctioning these homes to the highest bidder because they were deemed too expensive to repair, but we have demonstrated that these homes can be retained by the council and brought back into use.”
Alongside the work with partners, the council has also been renovating some of the 91 homes - 26 are now managed by the council as temporary accommodation, with another 14 due to be available soon. By March 2018, 24 properties will also have repaired and gone back into the main council housing pool and be available for ‘general needs’. The time a property will stay empty will vary depending on the level of works required to bring it up to standard.