RICS: give councils more empty property powers
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
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Councils should be given increased powers to bring the UK's 920,000 empty properties back into use, RICS has said.
The group claims that 330,000 of the homes have been vacant for six months or more because of the "ineffective reporting systems currently in place to keep track of them".
RICS is calling for "robust and transparent mechanisms" to be put in place to bring empty homes back into use and increase the supply of affordable homes across the country.
The problem of vacant houses can easily be tackled in England and Wales, says RICS, through effective use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders.
"The lack of affordable housing in the UK is close to crisis point with many of the most vulnerable in society being housed in unsuitable temporary accommodation or even rendered homeless. Yet despite this, local authorities have few real powers to bring vacant properties back into use," said Peter Bolton King, RICS' global residential director.
RICS also thinks that owners of empty properties should be incentivised to bring them back into use.
It says that a "simple first step" would be for empty homes to be hit with the full rate of local property tax, meaning a property would be more profitable occupied than vacant.
Peter Bolton added: "Simplification of reporting systems is a vital first step to monitoring the UK’s privately held empty homes stock and must be supported by enforced powers enabling local authorities to bring these homes into use. This will help to provide affordable housing for some of the most vulnerable in society as well as provide a rental income for private owners. In addition, small changes to the taxation system will provide a necessary financial boost for local authorities."