B&NES Councillors have approved an additional Council Tax scheme to incentivise owners to bring properties back into use. This is part of a range of tools to tackle empty homes, which starts with engagement and support for owners who are struggling.
Housing is a key priority – says the Lib Dem administration – with the Council tackling the affordability crisis from all angles, using planning, partnerships and direct developments to create more affordable homes.
Councillor Richard Samuel (Walcot), who introduced the Empty Homes report at full Council yesterday evening, said:
“It is our responsibility to ensure the most efficient use of the housing stock within Bath and North East Somerset and to use the widest range of powers to achieve this aim.
“We hold this duty because it is morally wrong to allow homes to sit empty whilst there are people forced to live on the streets, sofa surf, or live in cramped sub-standard housing.
“The council encourages re-use by providing assistance and advice first, but the additional council tax provides a further tool to encourage owners to bring their homes into use. Ensuring dwellings are brought back into occupation by negotiation is our preference and the Councils Empty Properties team have a great success rate.
“Everyone deserves the chance to live in decent housing, particularly children as this provides the best start in life.”
During the debate, Councillors shared examples of long-term empty homes which had become a focus for antisocial behaviour. Action by the Council to bring these properties back into use had a positive impact on communities.