UK: The Communities and Local Government (CLG) department in the UK launched two new online toolkits to help tackle the problem of empty homes in England. It has introduced a GIS-based empty homes mapping toolkit. It plots the location of long term empty homes in private ownership across the country. This allows councils to pinpoint empty homes hotspots in their area and work with landlords and the local community to bring derelict properties back into use. The system allows users to overlay maps with other information such as levels of housing need.
CLG has also launched the empty homes knowledge toolkit, which is described by CLG as a “one-stop-shop” that gives local authorities, housing associations and other stakeholders access to everything they need to know about bringing properties back into use. This includes legislative frameworks, partnership building and investment mechanisms.
There are an estimated 300,000 empty homes in England, which the department believes could house around 700,000 people.
Communities minister Andrew Stunell said, “New toolkits encourage landlords to end the scandal of empty homes. Local communities will sit alongside the new GBP 100 million fund we have announced for refurbishing properties, and our commitment to match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use for six years. Together these are powerful incentives to encourage local areas to bring more properties back into use, and create new homes for thousands of families.”