Empty property owners in Calderdale came together to help bring empty homes back into use. A free networking event, Under 1 roof, was held at the Town Hall, Halifax on Wednesday 2 October 2013 attracting almost 100 owners of empty homes and private landlords.
Under 1 roof provides landlords with lots of advice and information and helps owners sell or let properties. The event also provided top tips about repairs, maintenance, insurance, finance, finding tenants and much more. Invited guest speakers gave talks on landlord insurance, property auctions, energy efficiency and energy performance certificates.
This event takes place on an annual basis and due to its popularity, the Council is in the process of creating a dedicated web page and regular information flow to landlords about what support and advice is out there to bring empty properties back to life all year round.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Environment, Cllr Barry Collins said:
“Empty properties cost money, whether it’s insurance, security, maintenance or council tax. There are almost 1,750 residential properties in Calderdale which have been empty for over 6 months and of those, 750 have been empty more than 2 years. Following the success of this year’s event, it is hoped that many will be brought back into use.”
For residents across Calderdale, bringing empty properties back into use is important. Recently, the Council has been able to use enforcement powers to encourage the sale of 20 Elmfield Terrace, Halifax, an empty property at an auction house in Leeds.
In 2011, the Council first received complaints about masonry and slates falling off the roof of the empty property. Building Control services issued a notice to the owner to carry out repairs to the roof.
In 2012, the Council received further complaints about the defective guttering causing water to enter the neighbouring property. Environmental Health Services issued a notice to the owner to carry out repairs. Following non-compliance of all notices, the Council carried out remedial works to both the roof and the guttering.
The owner of the empty property failed to repay the Council for the costs of the work which allowed the Council enforce the sale of the property in order to recover the debt.
In September 2013, the property was sold at auction for £161,000. The debt to the Council, auction costs and legal costs have been paid out of the proceeds, and the remaining money is available for the owner to claim. After 12 years, if the money is not legitimately claimed, the Council are legally allowed to keep it.
The neighbour of the empty property has reported that following all the work that has been carried out to the empty property, the problems her home was facing have been resolved. One of the neighbours at Elmfield Terrace said:
“It’s such a shame a very good property like that, in a lovely area, is going to waste. I am very pleased to know that it has been sold especially when so many people are looking for somewhere to live. Thanks to the Council, problems associated with the empty property have now come to an end.”
The Council’s Cabinet met recently to discuss proposals for a 150% Council Tax to be imposed on long term empty homes. If approved by Council, this will come into force from April 2014.
Calderdale Council continues to make every effort to ensure that empty residential properties are brought quickly back into use. The priority is to work with owners to help them, but in exceptional cases, enforced sale is an effective option.
The Council continues to offer a wide range of practical support and guidance for property owners. For more information about bringing empty homes back into use, please contact Eileen Johnson, by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01422 392438.