Big rise in number of empty homes in St Albans could prompt district council elections debate
PUBLISHED: 13:16 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:17 09 April 2019
According to Government statistics, the number of long-term empty homes in St Albans has increased by 41 per cent to over 400 in one year from 2017 to 2018.
The number of empty homes went up across England by an average of five per cent between 2017 and 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has revealed.
Action on Empty Homes director Will McMahon said: “At a time of national housing crisis, it is worrying to see the number of long-term empty homes in St Albans shooting up in the last year.
“We hope that candidates in the May elections debate the reasons for this rise in St Albans and support the Coalition on Community Investment’s call for a government strategy to bring wasted empty homes back into use for England’s homeless.
“Over a billion pounds a year are spent funding often unsuitable temporary accommodation for homeless individuals and families. This scandal ruins lives and drains the public purse while empty homes stand empty and families are locked out by England’s current national housing crisis.”
Karen Dragovic, head of housing at St Albans district council said: “Empty homes are an issue locally, where demand for housing is so high.
“The council is committed to bringing homes that have remained empty for a long time or are causing a nuisance to neighbours, back into use.
“There are cases where the owner is unwilling or unable to cooperate. There have been a number of examples recently where the council has worked with owners of empty homes to either make them available for rent or sell them on the open market.
“If anyone has concerns over an empty property they can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our council tax is structured to encourage properties back into use as soon as possible. The council currently charges an additional 100% council tax ‘premium’ for long term empty properties. This is done to encourage landlords and owners to bring homes back into use as soon as possible.”