Empty homes strategy launched by council

Effort to bring back some of the 2,000 homes in borough that remain empty, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Enfield Civic Centre
Enfield Civic Centre

Enfield Council will spend up to £200,000 per year in an effort to bring empty homes back into use and tackle the housing crisis.

The council has launched a five-year plan aimed at boosting the supply of homes and helping some of the 3,500 households in the borough living in temporary accommodation.

It will focus on long-term empty homes – those that have been empty for more than six months – in the private sector. There are thought to be around 2,000 of these in Enfield.

Under the plan, a team from the local authority will engage with the owners of long-term empty homes to provide advice and information.

The council aims to increase the number of such homeowners who use its ethical lettings agency, Enfield Let, to rent out their properties.

It also plans to set up a forum to share information, agree priorities and solutions to the empty homes problem.

Homes that have been empty for more than two years or subject to complaints will be prioritised for action to bring them back into use, which could include enforced sale or compulsory purchase.

Properties left empty and unfurnished for more than two years are already subject to a council tax charge of 150%, rising to 300% after five years. 

The council hopes the strategy will help it to meet its housing targets, as bringing empty homes back into use is quicker than building new ones. In the last twelve months, the local authority brought 55 empty properties back into use – more than in previous years.

Members of the council’s cabinet agreed the empty homes strategy at a meeting on Wednesday, 7th July.

Cabinet member for social housing Gina Needs told the meeting: “We need to make the best use of our housing stock to meet the needs of our residents. 

“Traditionally, we have focused our efforts on those properties that have been empty for a really long time – but they are the most difficult to bring back into use. 

“The new strategy focuses instead on maximising the number of homes that are both brought back into use and made available for residents.”