Council look to use unoccupied properties to solve housing crisis

Newly released figures show that the Borough of Rochdale has thousands of homes standing empty while the same number of families are waiting to be housed. According to the charity Empty Homes, there are 3,688 houses in the borough vacant, with 3,591 families currently on a very slow moving waiting list.

Of the empty homes, 150 are owned by the Rochdale council, 135 by local housing associations and 3,403 by private owners. Half have been empty for more than eight months. The issue of property owners leaving them empty has always been of concern to the council and they are looking at ways to help bring these properties back into use. They are in the process of trying to track and persuade owners of empty properties to take out landlord insurance and make the home a viable business. The property owners would then be given a tenant whom the council will vouch for and who is in need of a home. The housing situation throughout the United Kingdom is at crisis point, so there has never been a better opportunity to use empty properties to meet housing needs. Rochdale needs homes quickly, and the council believe the best place to start is with those that already exist. Re-using empty properties can also have environmental benefits. Recent research found that the renovation of an empty house creates about one third of the CO2 emissions that building a new house creates.

A spokesman for Rochdale Council said: “All applications to the housing waiting list are regularly monitored to ensure that changes in people’s circumstances are appropriately responded to and reflected in their position on the waiting list. Over 90% of the empty properties within the borough at any given time are privately owned and therefore not in the direct control of the council or any of the other social landlords working within the borough. Given that the majority of the empty properties are not available to be offered to people on the waiting list the figures can be somewhat misleading.”

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