Birmingham City Council celebrates National Empty Homes Week
Each year National Empty Homes Week, which this year runs from Monday 28 February until Sunday 6 March, highlights the need to bring empty homes back into use and tackle their negative impact on neighbourhoods
In 2020/2021 The Empty Property Team at Birmingham City Council brought 305 homes back into residential use despite the Covid – 19 Pandemic. From April 2021 to January 2022 the team brought an additional 220 homes back into use. This has been achieved through collaborative work with owners and the use of a variety of enforcement measures.
During this National Empty Homes Week, the Empty Property Team will be using their twitter account @bccemptyhomes and other social media to highlight the work they carry out. There will be examples of our enforcement work to improve the exterior of properties following a statutory notice to do the work having expired. We will also share examples of long-term empty properties which we have now been returned back into residential use through our intervention and with the co-operation of owners.
If anyone wishes to report an empty property to the team, they can email email@example.com or telephone 0121 303 7978
Paul Lankester, Interim Assistant Director of Regulation and Enforcement said “The work carried out by the Empty Property Team in bringing houses back into use is vital to the City Council’s aims to maintain sustainable communities and neighbourhoods. It also has the additional benefit of providing some more housing to meet the needs of our citizens.”
Notes for Editors
- On 1 March 2022, The Council’s Private Rented Sector Strategy 2022 will be submitted to Cabinet for approval. The strategy seeks to ensure that we “Achieve long term and sustainable improvements in the quality of private rented sector through engagement and regulation”. This Strategy complements the City Plan and Housing Strategy as it aims to ensure that neighbourhoods are enhanced and the quality of existing housing is improved. One of the priorities of the Strategy is to increase the supply of safe and secure accommodation by bringing empty homes back into use and delivery of our Empty Homes Strategy (2019-2024)
- An example of the team’s work is below. In 2017, this 4-bedroom semi-detached property was reported to the team following a large fire. The property was then repossessed by the mortgage company and sold at auction. The new owner failed to commence work on the property and team tried to work with them to bring the property back into use. After a failure to comply over a two-year period the team used enforcement powers by serving three notices to secure the property and a further two to improve the appearance of the property due to fly-tipping. The team advised the owner that they were going to pursue a compulsory purchase order as a last resort to bring the property back into use due to his non-cooperation. Combined with charging the empty homes premium council tax rate prompted the owner to commence renovations. The property became occupied in 2021.
- At a national level, Action on Empty Homes continues to argue for additional support for local authorities in bringing empty homes into use, echoing calls for improved powers and renewed investment from organisations including the Local Government Association – and publicised action being taken by councils across England. The week is a great opportunity to publicise information and assistance for owners of empty homes – and offer local people advice on how to report any empty homes causing concern in their neighbourhoods.