Freedom of Information Request - Long Term Empty Properties

Ashleigh Niamir made this Freedom of Information request to Oxford City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Ashleigh Niamir

Dear Oxford City Council,

I am writing to you to request the following information under the Freedom of Information Act:

1) 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)
2) What work is the council currently undertaking or planning to undertake around reducing their long term empty properties in 2019?
3) 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?
4) If yes is the answer to question three, did the council review every single long term property
5) Does the reduction of empty homes in the council area form part of your Housing strategy?
6) Does the council have a budget in place to help support the reduction of empty properties?
7) How much did the council spend on temporary accommodation during 2018?
8) Does the council offer financial support /loans to Long Term Empty property owners to help them bring properties back into use?

Yours faithfully,

Ashleigh Niamir

freedomofinformation, Oxford City Council

Dear Ms Niamir,

Thank you for your email below. Your request was received on 13th May 2019 and you will be sent a response within 20 working days (of receipt) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Yours sincerely

Kathryn Winfield
Freedom of Information Officer 

Kathryn Winfield | Freedom of Informaton Officer | Oxford City Council | Law and Governance |
St. Aldate's Chambers | Oxford | OX1 1DS | Email: [email address] | T: 01865 252007
My working days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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freedomofinformation, Oxford City Council

Dear Ms Niamir,

Further to the acknowledgement below, I can respond to your FOI request received on 13th May 2019 as follows:

1) Five major works properties (subsidence, structural, extension for disabled person) and one property that forms part of a wider development site to provide additional homes for rent. Two sheltered properties (one bedsit, one 1 bedroom).

2) Major works properties will be let when the work is completed. We have undertaken additional works to the sheltered flats such as decoration and carpets that has increased the acceptance of offers. We have re-opened a number of sheltered flats over a period of time and only have two remaining one of which is a bedsit.

3) As above, additional works to sheltered flats utilising the internal DLO.

4) All void properties are reviewed at a weekly voids meeting.

5) Yes. Our Housing & Homelessness Strategy 2018-21 brings together the Council’s Housing Strategy, Homelessness Strategy and Empty Property Strategy into one strategy. Reduction of empty homes sits primarily within Priority 3 of the strategy ‘ Make best use of private rented sector accommodation’.

Under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Council is not required to respond to requests where the information sought is reasonably accessible by other means. Information in respect of the Housing Strategy can be found on the Council’s website via the following link:

Housing & Homelessness Strategy 2018-21 is available on our web site https://www.oxford.gov.uk/downloads/down...

More information about the work we do can be found on our website https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20104/pri...

6) We employ an Empty Residential Property Officer who works to facilitate the reduction of empty properties and to bring them back into use. Empty Home Loans are available through the Oxford Home Improvement Agency.

7) The Council spent £230,000 leasing private sector accommodation for use for temporary accommodation and £18,000 for short-term emergency accommodation (in hotels) during 2018. Homeless households using this accommodation were charged a rent within Local Housing Allowance rates for using this accommodation. Oxford City Council seeks to keep the use of temporary accommodation to a minimum and has reduced the number of household in temporary accommodation from 96 on 31/12/2018 to 84 as of 31/3/2019.

8) As above, Empty Home Loans are available through the Oxford Home Improvement Agency.

If you disagree with any part of the response to your request, you are entitled to ask the Council for an internal review of the decision(s) made. You may do this by writing to the Monitoring Officer, by either email – [email address] – or by post to Monitoring Officer, Oxford City Council, St Aldate’s Chambers, St Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1DS. After the result of the internal review, if you remain dissatisfied, you may ask the Information Commissioner to intervene on your behalf. You may do this by writing to the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Kathryn Winfield
Freedom of Information Officer 

Kathryn Winfield | Freedom of Information Officer | Oxford City Council | Law and Governance |
St. Aldate's Chambers | Oxford | OX1 1DS | Email: [email address] | T: 01865 252007
My working days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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Ashleigh Niamir

Dear Kathryn,

Thank you for your response. However, I think my request has been misunderstood.

I am referring to the council's long term empty properties (privately and council owned) - these are empty properties that have been empty for 6 months or more which then classes them as long term.

As per the published CTB1 stats that came out in Dec 2018, I can see that at this time the council had 270 long term empty properties. It is these types of properties that my questions relate to, and in the case of Question 1, I am asking for your currently long term empty figure as this will have likely changed since the end of last year.

Yours sincerely,

Ashleigh

Ashleigh Niamir

Dear freedomofinformation,

Please could I have an update on my request following my clarification on the types of properties my questions relate to?

Yours sincerely,

Ashleigh Niamir

freedomofinformation, Oxford City Council

Dear Ms Niamir,

I have forwarded your email onto the relevant department and I will respond as soon as they come back to me, I have chased them this morning regarding your email.

Yours sincerely,

Kathryn Winfield
Freedom of Information Officer 

Kathryn Winfield | Freedom of Information Officer | Oxford City Council | Law and Governance |
St. Aldate's Chambers | Oxford | OX1 1DS | Email: [email address] | T: 01865 252007
My working days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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freedomofinformation, Oxford City Council

Dear Ms Niamir,
 
Further to your email below, I can respond to your FOI request  as
follows:
 
1) 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)
527-  up to 5^th May.
 
 
2) What work is the council currently undertaking or planning to undertake
around reducing their long term empty properties in 2019?
Every year the Council contacts all owners of long term empty dwellings
(empty over 6months). Generally owners have plans such as renovating,
selling or renting their empty property. Where it becomes apparent the
owner is unresponsive or unable to deal with their property the Council
will attempt to provide assistance. This may be through meeting at the
property, sign posting to relevant organisations/contractors/estate agents
or; providing information on, for example VAT relief or probate.
Under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Council is
not required to respond to requests where the information sought is
reasonably accessible by other means.   Information in respect of the
Council’s Empty Home page and on what we do can be found on the Council’s
website via the following link:
[1]https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20104/pri...
 
3) 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?
Work to empty dwellings is usually carried out by the owner following
advice given or a notice served requiring work to be done, either to
improve conditions within the property or, in relation to nuisance or
Public Health concerns. The exception to this was following the Council
taking possession of a dwelling following the confirmation of a compulsory
purchase order. Work to bring this property back into use has taken place.
 
4) If yes is the answer to question three, did the council review every
single long term property
The Empty Property Officer carries out site visits to empty dwellings and
assessments are made in respect of the condition of the property. Priority
is given to those properties identified through complaints from
Councillors, members of the public or emergency services. It should be
noted that the majority of empty dwellings are in good condition.
 
5) Does the reduction of empty homes in the council area form part of your
Housing strategy? Yes
Under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Council is
not required to respond to requests where the information sought is
reasonably accessible by other means.   Information in respect of the
Council’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2018-21 can be found on the
Council’s website via the following
link:[2]https://www.oxford.gov.uk/downloads/file...
 
6) Does the council have a budget in place to help support the reduction
of empty properties?
The Council has an Empty Homes budget which annually amounts to £8,000.
This budget is generally used for works in default  following the service
of notices and for external legal advice.
 
7) How much did the council spend on temporary accommodation during 2018?
The Council spent £230,000 leasing private sector accommodation for use
for temporary accommodation and £18,000 for short-term emergency
accommodation (in hotels) during 2018. Homeless households using this
accommodation were charged a rent within Local Housing Allowance rates for
using this accommodation. Oxford City Council seeks to keep the use of
temporary accommodation to a minimum and has reduced the number of
household in temporary accommodation from 96 on 31/12/2018 to 84 as of
31/3/2019.
 
 
8) Does the council offer financial support /loans to Long Term Empty
property owners to help them bring properties back into use?
The Council do not offer financial assistance directly however, it
provides administrative support for a Flexible Empty Home Loan In
partnership with Flexible Home Improvement Loans Ltd.
 
If you disagree with any part of the response to your request, you are
entitled to ask the Council for an internal review of the decision(s)
made.  You may do this by writing to the Monitoring Officer, by either
email – [3][email address] – or by post to Monitoring Officer,
Oxford City Council, St Aldate’s Chambers, St Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1DS. 
After the result of the internal review, if you remain dissatisfied, you
may ask the Information Commissioner to intervene on your behalf.  You may
do this by writing to the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Kathryn Winfield
Freedom of Information Officer 
 
Kathryn Winfield | Freedom of Information Officer | Oxford City Council |
Law and Governance |
St. Aldate's Chambers | Oxford | OX1 1DS | Email:
[4][email address] | T: 01865 252007
My working days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
 
 

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