Forum to tackle issue of empty properties
North East councils have established an empty property forum to take a coordinated approach to reduce the number of empty homes and help tackle the housing shortage.
Social and economic factors such as low incomes, falling house prices, a transient population and a growing private rented sector have all led to higher levels of empty properties with over 40,000 empty homes in the North East alone.
Susan Cousins, chair of the forum said: “We believe that leaving a property empty is a waste of a valuable resource. We work with the owners to find out why the house is empty and provide the advice and support they need to bring their property back into use. In the last year alone we have helped turn over 1,400 empty properties back into homes people can live in.
“We are committed to reducing the number of empty homes in our region and want to take positive action to achieve this.”
But she added: “If we can’t find an owner or if they refuse to talk to use we will consider taking enforcement action.”
Northumberland County Councillor, Allan Hepple, cabinet member for housing, said: “We are supporting the national Empty Homes week to increase the focus on this important issue. The council is committed to bringing empty homes back into use, where they can benefit and improve a community.
“Empty properties can have a negative influence on the sustainability of an area, affecting everything from local businesses to public services, such as schools and transport. Working together with other councils in the North East means we can have an even greater impact on communities.”