Dear Uttlesford District 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,

Harriet Bell

auto-response@uttlesford.gov.uk, Uttlesford District Council

1 Attachment

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Craig Cardross Grant, Uttlesford District Council

8 Attachments

[1]NHS[2]check-your-health

Dear Ms Harriet Bell,

 

Thank you for your Freedom of Information Request (FOI).

 

Please find attached a FOI cover letter, associated docs and the answers
to your questions below:

 

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)

                Answer: On the 8^th May 2019 there were 286 empty
properties older than 6 months on Uttlesford District Council’s Empty Home
list.  

 

2)            What work is the council currently undertaking or planning
to undertake around reducing their long term empty properties in 2019?

Answer: Uttlesford District Council has had an Empty Home Strategy from
2008 (see attached docs).

I joined the Council in Nov 2013, and have held the role of the “Empty
Home Officer” since that date.

I receive lists of >6 month old empty properties quarterly from Uttlesford
Council Tax Team. These are contacted by letter offering grants and loans
(see attached booklets) and to ask for their intentions and timeframes
regarding making their property re-occupied.

                I monitor the empty properties via a spreadsheet, and
follow up on all properties until they are re-occupied and no longer
empty.

We do use enforcement powers, as a last resort, when all voluntary
dialogue has failed to produce a desired outcome (renovation and
re-occupation etc.). We have competed 2 x Compulsory Purchase Orders
(CPO’s) since 2010 and are currently engaged in a third one at the present
moment.

 

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?

                Answer: Please see above section response and below text.
The main focus on empty homes work is by myself as an “internal resource”.

The Council is part of a consortium call “The PLACE Consortium”. This
group has a budget available for both empty home grants and loans (for
renovations and re-occupation) and also for enforcement action. Cases that
wish to be considered for either grant/loans or enforcement action are
raised and discussed at PLACE Meetings (quarterly) and funds can be agreed
to be released for specific properties/projects.

 

4)            If yes is the answer to question three, did the council
review every single long term property

Answer: I work in conjunction with the Council Tax Department; we jointly
review our empty homes annually in the summer, ready for The New Homes
Bonus allocation in early Autumn.

I estimate that we review 80% of our empty homes. The approx. 20%
remaining are “known to be empty ongoing for some time months/years” and
are “screened” I.e. it is not needed to contact the liable party to check
for progress toward re-occupation, because we know why the property is
empty, and also know that it will be empty for some time in the future

 

5)            Does the reduction of empty homes in the council area form
part of your Housing strategy?

                Answer: Please see attached Strategy Docs.

 

6)            Does the council have a budget in place to help support the
reduction of empty properties?

The Council (Env Health – Protection) used to have a dedicated Empty Home
budget of £50K per annum. This has been reduced to £10K for 2019/20, it is
likely to be reduced to £0 (nil) moving beyond 2020. The main finance
source is now via the PLACE Empty Home Consortium.

The Council employs me on a full time post for the following roles: Empty
Homes, Private Sector Housing and Disabled Facility Grants.

Council budget for CPO’s is £300K; this is on the understanding that the
PLACE Consortium reimburses Uttlesford D.C for money spent “upfront” on a
pre-agreed CPO process.

 

7)            How much did the council spend on temporary accommodation
during 2018?

                Answer: Direct Expenditure for Temporary Accommodation for
2018/19 was £8,104.

 

8)            Does the council offer financial support /loans to Long Term
Empty property owners to help them bring properties back into use?

Answer: Please see PLACE Grants and Loans booklets attached. In addition,
for empty properties older than 2 years I can send out a “VAT Reduction
letter”. This reduces VAT to 5% for Building Contractors working on the
property.

 

Kind regards,

 

Craig Cardross Grant

 

Craig Cardross Grant

Housing Renewals and Improvement Officer

Uttlesford District Council

Council Offices

London Road

Saffron Walden

Essex CB11 4ER

 

Tel:  01799 510 565

Fax: 01799 510 379

Email: [3][email address]

 

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