Empty properties can be a problem for a number of reasons: -
- They are a magnet for children who see them as an adventure playground, not realising how dangerous they can be. If a property is not kept secure against access and a person is injured in or on the property, the owner can be liable.
- They attract vandalism, windows get broken, pipe work gets exposed and damaged, rubbish is dumped, and this in turn attracts vermin that can thrive in such conditions.
- They are a depreciating asset. When a property starts to fall into disrepair, it soon loses value, and quickly becomes costly to repair.
- They have a negative impact on the their immediate surroundings leading to a loss of confidence in the area and this in turn can lead to a lessening of value in the surrounding properties.
Empty properties are a wasted resource as they can be potential homes and if brought back into use, will reduce the need for building on green field sites and potentially reduce the number of people waiting on the Housing Register.
The Borough Council’s Private Sector Empty Homes Strategy can be viewed here.
The Borough Council has a graded response to the issue of empty homes:
- Identify empty homes. We have a number of ways of doing this, relying both on internal and external leads. Once we have identified a long term empty home we will then seek to identify the owner and work with them.
- Enable empty home owners. Once we have identified the owner we look to work with them to help them bring the property back into use. We have a number of options such as grants, advice and assistance and the Council's bond scheme to help owners who are looking to rent their property.
- Enforcement. As a very last resort the Council has a range of enforcement options it can take to bring properties back into use. This includes enforced sale, where the Council has already taken action to improve the property but the owner remains uncooperative. The council can also undertake a compulsory purchase, if the owner has refused all offers of help and the property has remained empty.
To assist with this, the Council has recently received funding from central Government to appoint a specialist officer for a period of time. This officer will coordinate the Council's empty homes strategy and seek to bring as many of Corby's long term empty homes back into use as possible.