As part of the Government’s wider initiative to combat the empty homes problem in the UK, a problem to the tune of reputedly 700,000 ‘void’ properties, the Department for Communities and Local Government released two online toolkits to help local communities and councils better identify empty homes and bring them back into use.
The first is the Geographical Information System (GIS) Empty Homes Mapping Toolkit, which plots the location of long-term empty homes in private ownership across the country. This has been developed to allow councils to pinpoint empty homes ‘hot spots’ in their area, and work with the landlords and local community to bring the derelict properties back into use.
The second is the Empty Homes Knowledge Toolkit, which is designed as a ‘one-stop shop’, giving local authorities, housing associations, empty property owners, landlords and the wider community access to everything they need to know about bringing properties back into use, including the legislative frameworks, partnership building and investment mechanisms.
Andrew Stunell MP commented:
“Long term empty properties easily fall into disrepair, attracting squatters, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, bringing down the neighbourhood and causing misery for neighbours.
“Local communities hold the keys to bringing these empty homes back into use and I hope these new toolkits encourage councils to work with them and the landlords to end the scandal of empty homes.
“They will sit alongside the new £100 million fund we have announced for refurbishing properties, and our commitment to match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use for six years. Together these are powerful incentives to encourage local areas to bring more properties back into use, and create new homes for thousands of families.”