This Empty Homes Week (15-24 February), Calderdale Council is highlighting the ways in which it encourages and supports owners to bring new life into their empty properties.
There are currently around 1700 empty properties in Calderdale. This figure has increased over the last 12 months, potentially due to planned work stalling due to the COVID pandemic.
Although COVID restrictions mean it isn’t possible to hold the usual Empty Homes Week information sessions this year, there’s still plenty of guidance available for property owners. This includes advice on how to get renovation projects moving again and information on topics such as selling and renting; work that can be carried out on empty properties; community-led solutions and short-term finance options.
The Council also works proactively to reduce the number of empty homes through a range of ongoing actions. For example, the Council has employees whose time is dedicated to supporting owners, regularly promoting the help available using a variety of methods.
Work also takes place with voluntary and charity sector groups, such as Halifax Opportunities Trust (HOT) to help bring properties back into use. The Council is working in partnership with HOT to acquire empty properties in the HX1 area, these are then refurbished and brought back into use as homes at affordable rent for local people.
Empty home owners in the HX1 area who are interested in selling their houses should email Jason Bell, Halifax Opportunities Trust’s Business Centre Lead, at email@example.com for an initial conversation about the support available.
In addition, the Council has been working with the Trustees of the Sir Francis Crossley Almshouses outside Halifax town centre. This charitable organisation, which looks after the historic properties and their residents, has received support from Calderdale Council to help renovate two of the previously empty properties to bring them up to modern standards. These properties are now occupied and plans are in place to look at bringing a further property on the site back into use.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Resilience, Cllr Scott Patient, said:
“Empty houses are a wasted resource when there’s a shortage of supply in the housing market, and can also cause problems for communities and nearby residents if they are left to decline. However, with the right support, they can be transformed into much needed homes and we do all we can to advise owners how they can resolve issues that are preventing their renovation or sale.
“The COVID pandemic may have caused challenges for empty property owners, perhaps due to financial problems or an uncertainty about what work can take place. We’re happy to provide individual support and offer advice about the best way forward and this Empty Homes Week, we encourage anyone with an empty home to get in touch and seek support.
“We always prefer to work with owners to proactively resolve any problems, but in some cases the Council has to use its enforcement powers to ensure owners of empty properties take action – particularly if the property is causing issues in the local community.”
To report an empty home or for more information and assistance to bring an empty property back into use, email Under1Roof@calderdale.gov.uk or visit https://calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/housing/emptyhomes