Saturday, 28 November 2009

Three per cent of Solihull homes "empty"

SOLIHULL MP Lorely Burt is backing a campaign which advocates councils seizing homes that have been left empty for more than six months.

Lorely Burt said it was a “national disgrace” that the number of empty UK homes has reached the million mark for the first time in more than a decade.

She said: “The latest figures, published in 2008, show there were over 2,500 empty properties in Solihull, and the figure is rising.

“That represents nearly 3 per cent of all homes in the borough not being used at all.

“More families than ever are living in overcrowded conditions and at the same time house building has slowed to the lowest rate since the 1920s.”

She backed a “week of action” organised by the Empty Homes Agency.

This urges councils to use Empty Dwelling Management Order, introduced in 2006, where necessary to seize homes that have been empty for more than six months.

Exceptions to this include people who are temporarily living away, are ill, on holiday or use it as a holiday home.

The Government should focus on bringing these homes into use, Mrs Burt said, instead of “unrealistic” demands to build almost 13,000 new homes in the borough.

She said in a statement: "In order to tackle the housing shortage, we first need to make use of the ones we already have.

“Getting an empty home back into use costs a fraction of the price of building a new home, and saves on carbon emissions too.

"Housing needs in the borough could be significantly eased by a concerted effort to turn empty properties into homes."