St Albans council threatens to sell off vacant homes as figures reveal over 1,000 in the area

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 July 2018

St Albans council offices.

St Albans council offices.

Archant

Authorities have threatened to sell off vacant homes in the district after government figures revealed there are 1,300 in the area.

Ministry of Housing figures show 1,331 homes - one in 45 - were sitting empty in the local authority area and of these, 286 had been unoccupied for at least six months by last October, when the count was taken.

A Ministry of Housing spokesperson said: “The number of long-term vacant dwellings in England is still lower than when records began, but we are determined to bring this figure down.

“That is why we are equipping councils with tools they need to tackle the issue head on, such as bringing forward legislation that will allow them to double the rate of council tax on those homes left empty for two years or longer.”

382 new homes were created in the St Albans area last year, including those converted from office blocks and houses split into flats, but there are fewer vacant properties in St Albans than in previous years. In 2008, when the number of vacant properties peaked at 783,119 nationwide, there were 1,348 in this area.

St Albans council’s head of housing Karen Dragovic said: “The number of homes vacant for six months or more in the district is in line with neighbouring local authorities.

“There are many reasons why homes become empty for this length of time including long-term building work, bereavement and owners moving away temporarily for employment reasons.

“Our focus is on bringing homes back into use that have been empty for two years or more as we feel this is an unacceptably long period, given the high demand for housing in the area.

“We appointed an empty homes officer last year with the task of bringing such properties back into use by intervening, tracing the owners and discussing their plans.

“As a last resort if the owner refuses to co-operate, the council can apply for a compulsory purchase order or pursue an enforced sale depending on the circumstances of a case.

“We have had success with our efforts, recently helping to bring three homes in the Sopwell area that had lain empty for more than 20 years back into use. Two of those properties have been let and the other is now being advertised for let.”

More news stories

15:00

It’s said to be the most wonderful time of the year, but is it really for everyone?

14:30

Tickets have gone on sale for an annual Hertfordshire music festival at a special discounted price.

09:00

More than 100 children in St Albans will be homeless this Christmas, according to housing charity Shelter.

09:00

Court results published by the Herts Ad are taken from St Albans, Stevenage and Hatfield Magistrates Court and are published without prejudice.

CountryPhile

I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the The Herts Advertiser e-edition E-edition
Zoo Watch CountryPhile

Newsletter Sign Up

Herts Advertiser weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read stories

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Herts Most Wanted Herts Business Awards