NINETY-TWO long-term empty homes have been brought back into use thanks to the work of Copeland Council since September of last year – more than double the amount over the previous year.
The council has a dedicated Empty Homes Officer whose role is to work with private property owners to reduce the number of vacant homes in the borough.
Since September 2018, the officer worked with over 300 owners to encourage them to bring their long-term empty property back into use; this has resulted in 92 properties being lived in again. There were 35 brought back into use in 2017/18.
Councillor Mike McVeigh, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing, said: “A number of properties in Copeland have been empty for more than 10 years, having been left empty for a number of reasons.
“In a good number of cases this is because the owner does not have the funds to carry out the necessary work but is reluctant to sell. Sometimes people are not sure what they can do with their empty homes and it may become a worry.
“These long-term empty properties can become a blight on the community, and although it is not a statutory obligation for us to work with empty home owners, it’s another example of our Housing team going over and above their duty.
“They work hard to identify the owners and work with them to develop a plan for their property; the aim being to repair it, sell it or rent it, all with a view to bringing it back into use as a home.
“We can assist as there are several options available and we encourage owners to get in touch to discuss what is on offer.”
Also during 2018/19, Copeland Council’s Housing team worked with landlords and tenants to ensure 35 rented properties with severe repair problems were brought up to a decent standard.
When the council receives a complaint about a property in serious disrepair and unfit for use, including damp, structural and electrical issues, its specialist surveyors inspect it and assess potential health and safety implications.
When the property does not comply, the council works with landlords and tenants to raise its standards, which can include enforcement action.
Coun McVeigh added: “This is an important aspect of our Housing team’s work as we must protect people from poor housing conditions and rogue landlords.”
If residents know of a property that has remained empty for some time, or they live in a rented property that is in severe disrepair, they can report it via to Copeland Council on 01946 598300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.