Huppert backs campaign to restore empty homes
January 9, 2012
MP Julian Huppert is backing a national campaign to bring empty homes in Cambridge back into use.
Figures released by the Empty Homes Agency show that there were 1,172 empty homes in the city in 2010 and 364 of these were long term vacant. The figure has fallen, however, from 1,428 in 2004.
Cambridge City Council has over 7,000 people on its waiting list for homes and works with private landlords to try to make empty homes available.
Most of the empty houses need renovation work and the city council can arrange for the work to be done and managed by a housing association if the landlord doesn’t want to do it.
As a last resort, it can compulsorily purchase the house and sell it to someone who will do the work and put it on the rental market.
Julian said: “In Cambridge and across the country as a whole we have properties which are standing empty and decaying. This is a scandal when we have thousands of families who need homes.
“We have to act now to turn this around. It makes no sense to have empty properties which could be lived in by families who in turn could pay rent to the landlords. This is a win win situation for everyone, and yet across the country it is just not happening.”
The campaign, backed by architect and Channel 4 presenter, George Clarke has already gained support from over 100,000 people and 5,399 people have reported an empty house.
Recently the government announced it was to top up its £100 million grant fund for bringing empty homes back into use by a further £50 million.
Cambridge residents are urged to support the campaign by reporting empty houses across the city through the website www.reportemptyhomes.com and reporting houses empty for more than six months to Cambridge City Council.
Cambridge City Council Executive Councillor for Housing, Catherine Smart: “Most of the privately owned empty properties in the city cannot be let because they need renovation work. We work with landlords to find a way forward. But the most difficult cases are where the landlord has been taken ill.”
Work is also underway to reduce the amount of time it takes to turn round empty council homes.
And work is progressing to renovate and update Brandon Court and Seymour Court to provide sheltered housing. A further project at Roman Court will provide specialist housing.
Cllr Smart added: “We have around 7,500 council owned homes in the city and, when tenants move out it might take a month or so to turn them round if work is needed; but we are working to reduce the time.”