Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Hastings Empty homes scheme

Have you – or someone you know – got an empty home that could be brought back into use? Hastings Borough Council is looking to reduce homelessness in the town by bringing empty properties back into use. This year, Empty Homes Week is 16 – 22 October.

Councillor Andy Batsford, the council’s lead member for housing explained: “We first published our Empty Homes Strategy in 2003 – and there were over 2000 empty homes in the town. This figure has reduced to around 800 privately owned empty homes, which is still far too many when there are so many people in the borough who need good quality, affordable housing.

“Everyone deserves to have a roof over their head. Bringing empty properties back into use is by far the easiest way to reduce the homelessness numbers. Our schemes help property owners to make their properties available, but we will force the issue if, regrettably, that becomes necessary.

“We know from experience that many owners need to be encouraged to bring their empty homes back into use. If appropriate, the council has the power to be enforce owners to make their properties available for sale or rent.

“The council has worked with the YMCA Downslink to lease empty homes for providing self-contained homes to young adults and families and we work with Optivo Housing Association to purchase and repair empty homes for social housing. Hastings Borough Council also works with Parity Trust (a not for profit bank) to provide interest relief on loans to home owners for bringing privately owned empty homes back into use.

“But as a last resort, Hastings Borough Council will take firm action, if necessary using our compulsory purchase powers. To date, we have taken possession of six empty homes that had been kept empty for a minimum of two years. These homes are now occupied, having been sold-on with an agreement with the new owner that the home will become occupied within a reasonable time.

“And over 100 owners have been notified that the first stage of the compulsorily purchase process has begun. The majority of these homes are now either occupied or being made ready for occupation or to be marketed for sale.

“We have consistently achieved our annual target to bring 70 homes back into use that were empty for over two years.”

How do you feel about this? Any feedback?

Posted 19:17 Monday, Oct 16, 2017 In: Home Ground


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  1. Val Hunnisett

    Getting long-term empty properties back into occupation, and neglected properties maintained, are good for the town and good for the people who live in it.

    The council is only contemplating legal action in cases of deliberate flouting of the law – preferring to work by agreement and advice.

    Would we prefer to live in an area where the local council was unconcerned about properties left unsafe and unoccupied?

    Comment by Val Hunnisett — Friday, Oct 20, 2017 @ 20:59

  2. David Stevenson

    It always annoys me when politicans on the scrounge for votes say we need to build so many thousand new homes over so many years. Is this motivated by concern for the people or are they bidding for donations to their parties from developers? The problem of empty housing is caused by the complicated, time-consuming and expensive process of conveyancing used in this politically-backward country by estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders. The fees charged by solicitors is a rip off because they claim to do “work” which doesn’t even need to be done and they charge again for the same things on subsequent sales. In other words, they get paid more than once for the same work! It is no surprise this medieval system prevails when you look at the number of lawyers in the House of Commons.

    Comment by David Stevenson — Thursday, Oct 19, 2017 @ 19:37

  3. Ms.Doubtfire

    A great scheme but one has to ask how many empty homes does Hastings Council or ESCC own in Hastings.
    I understand there are quite a few empty properties in council ownership and what about all these development sites which developers have simply land banked for so many years? Peter Chowney intimated not so long ago that he thought there were in the region of 2000 such sites in Hastings.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Thursday, Oct 19, 2017 @ 12:23

  4. ken davis

    Oh dear, we are at it again! For sure there should be as few empty buildings (not just homes) as possible but the mistake for ages with housing has been always to talk of numbers and not quality which is much more important long term and for health reasons.If the Council is serious about bringing empty buildings back into use it should financially support good quality re-builds/fits and take a stake in ownership in proportion to their cost input until such investment is paid back in rental income. Just giving properties a quick tart up to get them occupied is both short term and a huge waste of money.

    Comment by ken davis — Thursday, Oct 19, 2017 @ 09:45

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