Cardiff Council has revealed its plans to help bring Cardiff’s privately-owned, empty homes back into use.
Right now there are 1,355 privately-owned, empty homes in the city and the council wants to see as many of them as possible back in use, offering much-needed housing.
Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne said: “It is commonly accepted that long-term empty homes are a wasted resource. This is a matter which has been thrown into sharper focus by the pandemic and the housing crisis.
“Empty properties can attract squatting, vandalism, drug abuse, anti-social behaviour, arson, rodents. They can cause damage to neighbouring homes and if properties remain empty, the inevitable deterioration has an impact on neighbours and blights communities.
“While Cardiff has seen a decrease in long-term empty dwellings down from 1,568 in 2018/19 to 1,355 now, it’s clear that we need a focus and some fresh policies which can help get these properties back in use, housing people and families.
“Working with Welsh Government we have developed an Empty Homes Policy and Action Plan which outlines the assistance that can be offered to owners to encourage them to bring properties – which have been empty for longer than six months – back into use. This policy also sets out the enforcement tools that are available where advice and assistance fails.”
In Cardiff, owners of unfurnished properties which have been empty for longer than 12 months are charged a premium rate of council tax at 150% of the assessed rate. The money generated from this charge is ring fenced for the Housing Department and used to help bring empty properties back into use. The money is currently funding two Shared Regulatory Services officers whose focus is now entirely on bringing empty homes back into use.
The new policy will see:
- An annual mailshot to all owners providing tailored advice while opening a dialogue on the future of their empty property;
- Owners will be directed towards developers, housing associations or the Council’s own leasing scheme to help bring properties back into use;
- The council will also promote the council’s Houses into Homes Loans Scheme;
- Deal with neighbour complaints about the condition of properties, ward and or Senedd members; and
- Carry out enforcement action to deal with insecure properties or any issues of dilapidation causing nuisance to neighbouring properties.
In some complex cases where properties have lain empty for long periods of time without resolution the council may use Compulsory Purchase powers. This could bring properties into the council’s own portfolio or get them ready for sale to a developer.
The council may also serve notice on an owner to carry out improvement works. If they fail to do so the Council may complete the works with the financial costs of any repairs then used to enforce the sale of the property to recover the debt.
Cllr Thorne added: “We want to foster good relations with owners and to encourage them to return their properties to use, giving them all the advice and assistance they require to help them do that. Bringing these types of properties back into use, allied to our own council house building programme, has the potential to make significant inroads as we look to deliver more affordable housing across the city.”