Memorandum by Peterborough City Council
I refer to the above inquiry and the invitation
to contribute views on the subject.
The Council's Empty Homes Strategy came into
being in 1996, and has been used to bring approximately 300 properties
back into use. This has been achieved using a variety of tools
including short-life grants to housing associations in return
for nomination rights, negotiations with owners to sell, rent
or inhabit properties and use of compulsory purchase powers.
However, the Council feels that the work to
bring empty homes back into use could be facilitated in a number
of ways. These are detailed below:
Ability to charge full Council Tax
on properties vacant for more than six months.
For properties vacant for three years
or more, no VAT charged on refurbishment leading to occupancy.
Introduce fast track CPO procedures
where properties have been vacant for eg five years or more, whether
the owner is identified or not; and/or streamline exiting CPO
procedures to enable greater use to be made of the powers.
Encourage the use of Enforced Sale
Procedures by reducing the uncertainty for Local Authorities eg
by introducing a cut-off point beyond which owners cannot pay
debts for Work in Default, thus stopping any sale.
Create a legal framework to enable
Government Departments, Local Authorities, NHS Trusts and RSLs
to temporarily requisition the use of vacant properties for rent.
This could be for a limited period eg five years at the end of
which control would revert to the owner, or the property be sold.
Levels of vacant properties in all
areas to be a material consideration in the Housing Corporation's
decision to award ADP/LASHG for new build.
I hope these comments will be considered useful
by the Select Committee.
Senior Environmental Health Officer
25 September 2001