Director of Growth
Ms J Ryall
PO Box 304
Ashton under Lyne, OL6 0GA
0161 342 2741
12 June 2019
Dear Ms Ryall,
Freedom of Information – Request for Information
Unique Reference: FOI 8851
Thank you for your request for information dated 13 May 2019, which the Council received by
email. You have requested the following information:
Can the council confirm their current number of Long Term Empty Properties as of the
8th May (those domestic properties which have been empty for six months or older).
What work is the council currently undertaking or planning to undertake around
reducing their long term empty properties in 2019?
During 2018 did you undertake any work around reducing your Long Term Empty
Properties. If you did was this done using internal resource or a third party?
If yes is the answer to question three, did the council review every single long term
Does the reduction of empty homes in the council area form part of your Housing
Does the council have a budget in place to help support the reduction of empty
How much did the council spend on temporary accommodation during 2018?
Does the council offer financial support /loans to Long Term Empty property owners to
help them bring properties back into use?
I am pleased to be able to provide the information required as follows:
1. The number of long term properties that have been empty for longer than 6 months as at
08.05.2019 is 1,125 properties.
2. The Council is currently preparing its new Housing Strategy. Our approach to addressing the
issues associated with empty homes and supporting owners to bring properties back into use
will be set out in this document.
At present the Council’s preferred approach is to provide support and advice to empty home
owners in order to remove the barriers to bringing their properties back into use. Empty Home Owner Engagement
The Council hosts regular engagement events with empty home owners. On 17 April all
empty home owners were invited to an engagement session, which provides advice
and information to empty home owners on opportunities on how to bring their empty
property back into use, including access to grant and management arrangements.
The Council is working with a local housing association and has developed and
implemented a lease and repair scheme that allows empty home owners to access
grant and management services.
The Council also works with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority who is
supporting bringing empty homes back into use as a key cornerstone of its own
Housing Strategy that is committing surpluses from its Housing Investment Fund to
bring empty building and properties back into use.
The Council has recently concluded a consultation exercise on a proposal to increase Council
Tax for long term empty homes. This has now been implemented and a Council Tax premium
is now applied in the following circumstances:
From 1 April 2019, 200% Council Tax premium is charged on properties that have been
empty for more than 2 years.
From 1 April 2020, 200% Council Tax is charged on properties that have been empty
for more than 2 years and less than 5 years.
300% is charged for properties that have been empty for more than 5 years.
400% is charged for properties that have been empty for more than 10 years.
3. The Council uses both internal and third party resources to reduce long term empty properties.
The Council held 2 empty home owner engagement sessions during 2018 – 19. However, the
primary focus of the Council’s response to addressing the problems associated with empty
homes is undertaken in partnership with a local Housing Association called Ashton Pioneer
Homes. Further details of the scheme and our current work with third parties can be found on
the Council’s website. https://www.tameside.gov.uk/emptytoplenty.
4. The Council regularly reviews every long term empty property through the annual Council Tax
5. Recent Housing Needs research suggests that only 1.8% of all properties are empty in
Tameside which is the lowest level since records began in 2004 and below the Greater
Manchester average of 2.4%. The Council’s housing strategy is currently in development and
will be published in autumn 2019. Ambitions to reduce the number of long-term empty homes
will form a critical part of this document.
6. The Council has a budget available to help facilitate empty home owner engagement activities
and distributing promotional material and mail shots.
7. We have an annual contract for Temporary Accommodation for £200k. This runs from April
2017 to March 2018.
8. The Council does not directly have grant or financial support available for empty home owners.
However, the Lease and Repair programme that has been established by the Council and a
local Housing Association has access to grant and recoverable finance via Homes England.
To be eligible for grant, the following conditions are applied:
The property must have been built more than 10 years ago.
The property cannot be a second or holiday home.
The property must have been empty for at least 6 months.
If you have any queries about this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make
a complaint, or request a review of the Council's decision, please write to Sandra J Stewart,
Borough Solicitor, at PO BOX 317, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 0GS.
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the Information
Commissioner for a decision. The Commissioner cannot normally make a decision unless you
have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Council. The Information Commissioner
can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF and at www.ico.org.uk.
Yours sincerely, John Hughes
Housing Growth Lead Investment and Development