A team at Caerphilly County Borough Council is turning houses into homes, by working with owners to bring empty properties back into beneficial use.
Caerphilly’s Empty Property Team offers a wide range of advice and support to owners of empty homes, including financial assistance. However, when all options to engage owners are exhausted the team can use enforcement powers to tackle problematic long-term empty properties.
The team recently completed the Council’s first enforced sale on a property in Caerphilly that had been empty since at least February 2015. The property had been left to deteriorate with no liable person identified to care for the property following the death of the occupier in 2012.
The property sat empty for over 7 years, deteriorating, and causing annoyance to neighbouring properties. The property looked unsightly and started to attract pests; it was often subject to complaints from neighbours and the wider community.
In response to concerns from residents, the Council served legal notices on the overgrown waste-filled garden. With no owner located the Council carried out works in default of the notice to clear the garden. This resulted in debt owing to the Council and opened the door for the Empty Property Team to enforce sale of the house to recover the money owed.
Sale of the property was completed during the summer and a new owner found to turn it back into a home.
Cllr Shayne Cook, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said “Empty properties are not only a blight on our communities and magnets for anti-social behaviour, but they also represent a wasted resource, particularly given the pressures of the current national housing crisis.
“The Council recognises that doing nothing is not an option and is committed to tackling the issue of empty properties. Enforcement is a last resort, but we recognise that it is necessary in some cases.
“During the Empty Property Team’s first year of operation it successfully brought 104 empty homes back into beneficial use: the highest annual number for the Council to date. As well as the creating much needed homes, the team’s efforts are helping to transform local communities and generate financial benefits to both the Council and the local economy.”