10 Mar

Housing minister to help councils over empty homes

Housing minister to help councils over empty homes

Councils are to be given new guidance on how they can get empty homes brought back into use as residences, housing minister Margaret Beckett has announced.

The government is providing the information - published jointly with the Empty Homes Agency - to help authorities use the full range of powers at their disposal to tackle the issue.

Actions councils can take include placing adverts to track down the owners or instigating empty dwelling management orders, in which the authority can take over the running of a property, though not its ownership.

Ms Beckett said: "With an increased focus and more consistent approach we can bring more homes back into use. With house building slowing in the current economic climate, that is more important than ever."

Such moves may help increase housing supply, something that might create new opportunities for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder.

Commenting on the news, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors argued that councils should get an extra incentive by being allowed to keep council tax receipts from formerly empty homes that new people move into, rather than ceding them to central government.

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