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Brighton and Hove City Council given £3.1m to fill empty homes
“Help us fill the empties” – that is the message to residents as council chiefs look to bring back into use hundreds of vacant homes.
Brighton and Hove City Council has been handed £3.1 million to breathe life back into empty houses.
With spiralling private sector rents, rising homelessness and a chronic shortage of homes, Brighton and Hove City Council is stepping up its drive to tackle thousands of properties standing empty for more than six months.
The local authority has been awarded £3.1 million from the Homes and Communities Agency to bring more houses not only in the city, but also in the Lewes district back into use.
But it also called for co-operation from residents and property owners to help it find long-term shelter for 16,800 people on its social housing waiting list.
One privately owned home in Moulsecoomb, which lay empty for years, is now ready to accommodate a family thanks to the scheme.
Bill Randall, chairman of the council’s housing committee, said: “Demand massively outstrips supply for housing in Brighton and Hove.
“Homes standing around empty for long periods of time are unacceptable.
“I also appeal to residents to tell us about homes in their neighbourhoods that have been empty for some time. Help us fill the empties.”
According to national campaigning group Empty Homes, in 2012 there were 3,966 vacant properties in Brighton and Hove – about 3% of the total number of dwellings in the city.
The local authority said empty homes can attract vandalism, fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour.
It added it would consider enforcement action against any property which is empty for a long-term or is causing concerns to neighbours.
Owners of homes vacant for more than two years will have pay 150% of the council tax.
The council said its empty properties team bring about 150 homes a year back into use.
But despite this, of those on the housing waiting list, fig ures show more than 1,400 are in the top two priority bands.
Developer Steve Rooke worked with the empty property team and received funding to refurbish an older property that had been empty for some time.
Mr Rooke said: “The council then rent it back from me for a fixed term and at a fixed rent.
“It’s worked really well for me – so much so that I’m looking for other potential properties to buy and do the same thing.
“The rent is lower than on the open market but having the rent guaranteed and the management handled by the council adds to the value and makes it stack up.”
To report an empty property email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 293156.
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