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Reopen doors to empty homes

Reopen doors to empty homes

March 13, 2020
There are homes sitting empty

London’s housing crisis is deepening all the time. Yet there are some empty homes simply sitting unused. Ealing Council is doing all it can to get these properties back into use.

In our borough alone, there are more than 2,500 families in temporary accommodation and almost 9,000 households waiting for a council home.

With so many families in need of a roof over their heads, the council last year doubled the cost of council tax for privately-owned properties which had been left empty for two years or more – to encourage landlords to get these homes back into use.

The council also started to offer landlords a hassle-free ‘direct let’ scheme to help pair them with tenants looking for a home. Not only is this scheme free, the council also offers landlords a one-off cash incentive equivalent to 16 weeks’ rent in advance, as well as an inspection of the property to help make sure it meets all current rules and regulations.

The measures appear to have been working.

Overall, the total number of empty properties in the borough has dropped from 3,057 to 1,188 since the council tax premium was introduced.

And the number of homes left empty for two years or more dropped from 346 to 294, bringing good homes back into proper use.

Following this success, the council is now considering whether to raise council tax to three times the normal rate – for owners of homes that have sat empty for more than five years.

An increasing number of landlords are signing up for the direct lets scheme, too – providing homes for families that are in-work, reliable and just in need of good quality, affordable accommodation.

To find out more, you can read our article about the direct lets scheme and how an Acton landlord benefited from it; or you can get in touch with the direct lets team on 020 8825 8765 or by emailing landlords@ealing.gov.uk

Meanwhile, Ealing Council is taking further hands-on measures to tackle the housing shortage by pledging to build 2,500 more genuinely affordable homes, all of which will be let by the council or housing associations. The council is leading the way on this issue – no other local authority in the capital is building more affordable homes than in Ealing.