A focus on National Empty Homes Week
15-21 February 2021 marks ‘National Empty Homes Week’, with the charitable organisation, Action on Empty Homes, calling for Government action on the rising number of empty properties throughout the UK. Such action may see the launch of a ‘National Empty Homes Strategy’ to bring thousands of the long-term empty properties in England back to use.
According to Action on Empty Homes, in 2020 there was a 20% rise in long term empty homes numbers with increases in nine out of every ten local council areas (based on Government data released in November 2020). It is hoped that a Government-backed support programme like this would:
— Benefit a variety of empty properties from unsold new-builds and over-priced luxury apartments to dilapidated properties in need of refurbishment.
— Create a £200m national fund to support local authorities in bringing empty buildings back to life through grants and loans.
— Empowering local councils to re-use empty buildings through improved powers such as a ‘Empty Dwelling Management Order’.
— Expand the ‘Community Housing Fund’ allowing more resource to support local community-led projects and ensuring properties are safe and fit for purpose.
The property guardianship model creates real opportunities when it comes to empty residential and commercial properties. Property guardians offer a temporary solution to the risks of an empty building whilst also providing alternative housing options to individuals, at far more affordable licence fees.
We also understand that the Property Guardian Providers Association (“PGPA”) has raised its concerns about the steep rise in the number of vacant properties alongside the growing number of people seeking affordable accommodation. The PGPA is also calling on the Government to provide exemptions to housing regulations, including HMO licensing, that would support a model based on temporary use and affordable housing, without compromising guardians’ safety. Read our past update on how HMO licensing currently applies to properties occupied by property guardians here.
Further extension to the ban on enforcement
Further to our previous updates, we also confirm that the Government has recently further extended the ban on enforcement for a further 6 weeks until 31 March 2021 subject to the exceptions outlined here.
We will keep you updated on all issues raised in this update.Back to Legal Updates →