Homes Delivery Plan
Section 1: Empty homes in Oldham Page
1 Foreword 3
2 What will this delivery plan do? 4
3 Empty homes in Oldham 5
4 What are we doing? 8
4.3.1 Incentive tools 8
4.3.2 Enforcement tools 9
5 What people said 11
Section 2: Our priorities and action plan
6 Priorities for tackling empty homes 12
7 Monitoring and performance 12
8 Contacts 13
Section 3: Appendices
Appendix A: Empty homes action plan (2010- 2013) 15
Appendix B: Empty homes priority scoring 16
Appendix C: Empty homes process flow diagram 17
A sustainable delivery plan
This delivery plan is only being produced electronically, significantly reducing the amount of
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Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 2
Section 1: Tackling empty homes
1. Foreword by Chair and Vice Chair of Oldham Housing
Welcome to Oldham’s 2010- 2013 Empty Homes Delivery Plan.
The Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 is a sub document of the Private Sector
Housing Strategy 2009-2012. We hope that you find the format clear and concise and that it
provides you with an understanding of the approach we are taking to tackling empty homes.
The latest Government figures show there are over 680,000 homes, that have been empty
for 6 months or more in the UK, yet housing waiting lists continue to grow. In Oldham we
have acknowledged this as a priority for action and have developed a new delivery plan
which clearly identifies how we will reduce the number of empty homes in Oldham.
Our new delivery plan has been developed based on robust research and consultation and
contains our key priorities and actions for addressing empty homes over the next three
Our priorities are....
• Homes that have a negative impact on a neighbourhood because of:
• high nuisance impact
• overgrown and/ or unkempt garden
• no glazing/ broken windows/ doors and windows boarded up
• Neighbourhoods with 2 or more empty homes in the same terrace or 4 or more on a
• Homes that have been empty for over 36 months
Whilst this plan highlights what we will do to tackle empty homes, it is important that
everybody helps us to reduce the numbers by playing their part and informing us of any
problematic empty homes you know of.
By bringing empty homes back into use we will improve neighbourhoods, increase access to
housing and help to improve our resident's quality of life.
Councillor John McCann
Chair of Oldham Housing Partnership and
Cabinet Member for Community Services and Housing
Vice Chair of Oldham Housing Partnership
and Chair of Oldham Housing Investment Partnership
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 3
2. What will this delivery plan do?
2.1 What does this strategy do?
The Empty Homes Delivery Plan is a sub document of the Private Sector Housing Strategy
(See figure 1). The plan aims to clearly set out:
• The current situation of empty homes in Oldham
• What we have been doing to bring empty homes back into use
• What we are going to do to bring homes back into use
• Which empty homes we will prioritise
• When we do this by and how
Affordable Private Sector Older Persons Homelessness HMR/PFI action Emerging
Housing Strategy Housing Strategy Housing Strategy Strategy plans strategies and
(Figure 1: Housing strategy hierarchy)
2.2 Why Target Empty Homes?
Homes may be empty for a number of reasons, however,
whatever the reason, they are frequently a cause for concern for
local residents, becoming a drain on resources and potentially
dangerous and unsafe. By reducing the number of empty homes
we can help to:
• Improve neighbourhoods through
– More attractive neighbourhoods
– Increased property values
– Reduction in anti social behaviour
• Increase opportunities for people in housing need through
– More affordable housing
– Greater choice
– Improved standards of housing
• Help the owners of the properties to benefit through
– Rental income or capital
– Security of property
• Benefit the local economy and wider community through
– Reduced demand on services- fire/ police
– Reduced demand for building new homes and an
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 4
3 Empty homes in Oldham
3.1 Oldham: Facts and figures
The following information shows some of the key facts and figures about the nature of the Private
Sector stock in Oldham and provides the context for the Empty Homes Delivery Plan.
Area 142.5 km2
Oldham House Types
12% 0% 13%
Flats & Maisonettes
34% Semi Detached
Housing Mix Oldham North West England
Other Households 149 (0.16%) 0.52% 0.78%
Flats & Maisonettes 11,694 (12.79%) 13.56% 19.30%
Terraced 38,326 (41.92%) 31.74% 25.84%
Semi Detached 30,720 (33.60%) 36.55% 31.57%
Detached 10,546 (11.53%) 17.63% 22.51%
(Census data 2001)
Oldham Housing Tenure 2007/08
Tenure Stock 2005/06 (%) Stock 2006/07 (%) Stock 2007/08 (%)
Private Stock 71,998 (77) 71,773 (77) 73,721 (79)
HA/RSL Stock 6,382 (7) 6,434 (7) 5,762 (6)
LA Stock 14,755(6) 14,504 (16) 14,231 (15)
Total 93,135 92,711 93,714
(Housing Provision in Oldham by provider 2005-8: Source: Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix)
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 5
3.2 What is an empty home?
There is no single definition used by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) to
describe empty homes. The CLG are concerned to ensure that problematic empty properties
i.e. those that are not subject to a transactional process - are brought back into use. The
CLG does not count second homes and other properties that may only be used occasionally
(e.g. holiday homes and other seasonal lets) as empty. Properties that are empty for less
than six months (and are therefore likely to be transactional) are categorised separately for
statistical purposes from longer-term empty homes that are more likely to be problematic.
Statistics show that just over half of all empty homes remain vacant for less than six months.
In April 2009, there were 2,208 empty homes (empty for 6 months or longer, not including
those which are being held vacant for demolition) across Oldham and 1,873 empty for 12
months or longer (See table 1). Due to the current conditions in the economy, making homes
harder to sell, this plan will focus on properties which have been empty for 12 months or
Number of homes in the Borough 94,684 94,916
Number of Private Sector homes in Borough 72,607 72,438
Total number of homes empty ( + 6 months ) 3,547 3,430
Total number of private sector homes empty ( 6+ months) 2,368 2,208
Total number of private sector homes empty ( 12+ months) 1,873
Total of private sector homes empty 12 months + as % - 2.59%
(Table 1: Empty homes in Oldham)
3.3 Empty homes by ward
Empty homes are located all over the borough and even a small number can create
problems in a local neighbourhood. Whilst there are a higher number of empty properties in
some of the inner wards (particularly Housing Market Renewal neighbourhoods), nearly 100
homes empty for 12 months or more can be found in any ward (April 2009)
Total number of empty homes (12 months or more) by ward
140 125 126
103 102 97 93 92
100 90 85 89
77 77 80
80 68 65 69
h a rton al
t & th
Fa orth n
r th h
Fa r om t
e r Nor
Ro k V
ha n C
r th r th
S a Sa
(Figure 2: Empty homes by ward)
Empty homes were only recorded at 6 months or more
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 6
3.4 Empty homes by time
The length of time that a house is empty does not necessarily mean that it is blight or
causing a particular problem in a neighbourhood. However, the longer a property remains
empty, the more likely it is to fall into disrepair and more potential income is lost. Figure 3
below shows the percentage of homes that are empty by length of time in different wards.
Percentage of empty homes by ward (by length of time)
70% 60+ months
36 to 59 months
24 to 35 months
30% 12 to 23 months
de n N l
t & th
R ck d
ils rt h n
ils om t
ad n C ra
dl dd or ut h
dd ton rth
ad rto tr a
R on le
a t y's
Fa Cr ur s
th r th rt
Co o ut
Fa w o pto
e s Sou
Ch rto a nd
or wo No
Sa o y No
Ch de en
ad Sa le w So
e w le th
(Figure 3: Percentage of empty homes by ward)
3.4 Empty homes study
An empty homes study was completed by Oldham Council in November 2009, reviewing all
homes that had been empty for 12 months or more. It was undertaken to:
• Gain a better understanding of the reasons for homes being empty
• Gain a better understanding of how empty homes effect Oldham's residents
• Evidence a case for changing how we tackle empty homes
3.4.1 Emerging issues and findings
The review highlighted four main reasons for empty homes in Oldham:
• Owner/s have died and property is tied up in probate/ family decisions
• Occupant/s moved into care which could result in it being empty for either a
relatively short or very long period
• Property in process of being refurbished (two types)
Owned by professional developers or landlords (This is likely to be a short term case
and the property in general is usually back on market quickly)
‘Inadvertent landlords’ or less affluent owners. (Delays may be due to financing as
owners have to wait for resources to carry out works)
• Empty flats over shops which are used for business storage and in many cases
have no external access
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 7
4 What are we doing?
We have been committed to tackling empty homes in Oldham for a number of years.
Reducing empty homes is a target in our Local Area Agreement (LAA25d). We will continue
to work towards this target following the revised priorities contained in this delivery plan.
We have brought....
Three hundred and ninety two houses which had been empty for a long time back into use
between April 2007 and September 2009 (LAA 25d) through a variety of tools including
enforcement, property exchange and the Bond scheme
4.1 Empty Homes Team
Within the Council’s Housing Implementation team there are Technical Officers who have
responsibility for engaging with owners of empty homes to bring them back into use. The
work of this team has historically been to target specific geographic areas of low housing
demand and market failure, supporting future development proposals and improving the
appearance of key corridors and gateways. The team has been responsible for developing
new tools and for changing working practices and policy.
The Empty Homes Team has successfully...
Gained Cabinet for the removal of 50% Council tax discount for owners of long term empty
4.2 Empty home database
The Empty Homes Team has developed a working database of empty homes using
information from Council Tax records, the property Gazetteer and Land Registry information.
The database provides a register of all private sector homes in Oldham that are currently
empty. The database provides a reference point enabling us to monitor the total number of
empty homes, their current condition and ownership details. The database enables the team
to identify specific clusters, streets or areas where empty homes are increasing in number or
are particularly prominent. This has been used to inform our new priorities.
Surveyed every home which has been empty for 12 months or more to gain a better
understanding of empty homes in Oldham
4.3 Current tools for tackling empty homes
The Council uses a variety of tools for bringing empty homes back into use. These range
from incentives aimed at encouraging owners of empty properties to bring them back into
use to enforcement tools if an owner is not willing or if a property is in a dangerous state. A
number of these tools are published in the Private Sector Regulatory Reform Order which
can be found on the housing section of the council website Oldham Council - Living in
Oldham - Housing. The tools available are show below:
4.3.1 Incentive tools
Help and advice
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 8
Some owners of empty homes do not know what to do with them and we can provide advice
and assistance to help them. The initial approach is to offer them advice and address the
issues and concerns about the nuisance that can be associated with empty homes and we
can put them in contact with builders and other agencies that can assist with letting and
leasing their home. The owners are also made aware of their legal obligations and the legal
options available to the Council if homes are not returned to use.
Loan to sell
If an owner meets the criteria, they can be offered an equity loan to carry out works to the
property to bring it up to a standard suitable for market sale. The Council will oversee and
fund all works and register the costs as a land charge to the property. This is repayable when
the property is sold.
Loan to rent
If an owner meets the criteria, they may be entitled to an equity loan to carry out works to
bring a property up to a standard suitable for renting out. The loan will be tied into a lease
period. During the lease period, the Council will appoint an agent to manage the property and
rent it out to people on the waiting list. The costs will be registered as a land charge against
the property and will be repayable when the property is sold.
Purchase by voluntary agreement
If the owner of an empty home is unsure of their intentions, in certain circumstances
(property type & location), we can make an offer to purchase the property before proceeding
with other enforcement options.
Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LAS)
The LAS helps to raise standards in the private rented sector. If owners of empty homes
want to rent out their property they are referred to the LAS. The LAS enables landlords to set
up a successful tenancy and comply with legal requirements.
Oldham Rent Deposit Scheme (Bond scheme)
This scheme assists low-income households to secure good quality rented accommodation.
We work in partnership to deliver this with First Choice Homes Oldham. Technical Officers
inspect and survey empty homes and agree on the required standards with the owner. This
ensures they are in a fit and habitable condition before they are brought back into use.
The ‘Property Xchange’ Scheme is implemented using Housing Market Renewal funding.
Under the scheme, we can purchase selected homes that have been empty for six months or
over. These properties are refurbished before being offered for sale to residents affected by
demolition in HMR Areas.
4.3.2 Enforcement tools
In cases where owners are not willing to engage proactively with officers, there are a number
of enforcement options we can take on owners of empty properties.
Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO's)
The Housing Act 2004 introduced new discretionary powers to enable councils to take over
the management of an empty dwelling with the aim of securing its occupancy. An EDMO
allows the Council to take over the running of the property, carry out repairs required to bring
it up to a suitable letting standard and then rent it out.
Typically, this would be an option for end terrace properties in poor condition and beyond
viable economic repair. We would serve the order on the owner who would be legally obliged
to demolish the property. In some cases, the Council would then seek to purchase the land
from the owner.
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 9
4.3.3 Enforcement Options we are pursuing
The incentives and enforcement tools in 5.2 and 5.3 above are currently available to use,
however, we will continue to revise and adapt our tools in line with emerging policies and
new opportunities. One tool we are currently working to develop is:
Section 215 Notice & Enforced Sale
Homes that have become an eyesore, or pose a danger to the public can be subject to a
range of enforcement measures using legislation. “Land or building detrimental to the
amenity of an area” can be served with a Legal Notice under Section 215 of The Town and
Country Planning Act 1990 Act.
In most cases, failure by the owner to comply with a legal notice can lead to the Council
arranging for the works to carried out in default and charging the costs to the owner, or
registering a charge against the property. If this goes unpaid and costs escalate above £500,
then the Council can enforce the sale of the property to recover all costs.
Individual Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO)
CPO’s are the final sanction available to Council’s to improve substandard private sector
housing. CPO’s can be used to return long-term empty properties back into use. Section 17
of the Housing Act 1985 and Section 226 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, give
Local Authorities the power to acquire buildings and land through compulsory purchase.
4.4 How the process for addressing empty homes works
Officers in the Housing Implementation receive information from Council Tax, members of
the public and Elected Members. On the receipt of information about a particular property,
they will arrange to survey it to assign it a priority banding. This information is then used to
pursue the property owner to get the property brought back into use if this is the most
appropriate course of action.
A flow diagram showing the process for dealing with empty homes can be found at appendix
C at the end of this plan.
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 10
5 What people said?
5.1 How have we consulted people?
We consulted a wide number of people during the preparation of this delivery plan and
specifically around the priorities for tackling empty homes. This includes:
• Empty homes surveys
• Consultation with Elected Members
• Partner consultation
• Secondary data sources- Empty Homes Database
5.2 Partner/Members feedback
Partner and Elected Members feedback was received in a number of forums including the
Oldham Housing Partnership workshop, all Members briefing and through the Overview and
"Tackling poor quality and unscrupulous landlords should be a priority and publicising the
benefits of choosing accredited landlords to prospective tenants" (Elected Members session,
(We should)"Consider how we prevent other stock which is starting to deteriorate, falling into
disrepair in the future" (Elected Members session, 2009)
The information, advice and comments received during the consultation has been crucial in
helping to develop robust priorities which we can use to tackle empty homes to the benefit of
all Oldham’s residents.
"People move for neighbours and neighbourhoods, not the property" (Stakeholder session,
"Need to ensure that there are sufficient resources to bring empties back into use and
strategically target 'eyesore' empty properties" (Stakeholder session, 2009)
5.3 What will we do differently?
The consultation enabled us to review our existing priorities and establish new priorities to
tackle empty homes. As a result of the consultation we have focussed our resources on:
• A shift from focusing attention on empty properties in regeneration areas or
gateways and corridors, to empty homes which are causing a nuisance or detrimental
to local neighbourhoods
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 11
Section 2: Our Priorities
6. Priorities for tackling empty homes
The Empty Homes Delivery Plan has been developed with three main priorities.
• Reduce the number of empty homes in the Borough
• Improve information and advice
• Improve our evidence base
We have developed a clear action plan showing what and when we will achieve milestones
set out under each of the main priority headings. The action plan shows specific milestones
over financial years (April- March), and which will be updated on a yearly basis to ensure that
they reflect Oldham’s current aims and aspirations using the resources which are available.
The Empty Homes Action Plan is appendix A of this plan.
7. Monitoring and Performance
7.1 How we will monitor performance
We recognise the importance of ensuring that we manage and monitor our performance in
relation to our targets. The Empty Homes Action Plan will be monitored by an empty homes
steering group on a quarterly basis.
7.2 How we will share our achievements with Oldham residents
It is important to share our progress with Oldham’s residents and partners. Progress on the
Empty Homes Action Plan will be made available to all residents and partners through the
Housing Section of the Council and Oldham Partnership website.
7.3 Resourcing the delivery plan
The delivery plan is resourced through a variety of funding streams. It is not possible to
identify all of the resources that will be available over the time period of this strategy. The
following table highlights the resources we used to help tackle empty homes in 2009/10.
Source Funding Allocated in 2009/10
Private Sector Capital Programme £288,000 April 2009- March 2010
Housing Market Renewal (Part) £286,000 April 2009- March 2010
Nationally, the drive is to reduce the level of public spending and it is widely expected that
resources which are currently available to target empty homes will be reduced. Any changes
to resources will have an effect on future action plans.
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 12
If you require any further information about this delivery plan, please contact the Oldham
Housing Strategy team on the following:
8.1 Housing Team
Economy, Place and Skills
Oldham Business Centre
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Telephone: 0161 770 1666
If you require any further information, or more specific information you might want to contact
some of the agencies or organisations detailed below.
8.2 Partners and agency websites
Oldham Council Oldham Council
Oldham Partnership Oldham Partnership
Oldham and Rochdale Housing Market Oldham and Rochdale Housing Market Renewal
Homes and Communities Agency Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)
Communities and Local Government Communities and Local Government
Empty Homes Agency Empty Homes Agency
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 13
Section 3: Appendices
Appendix A: Empty homes action plan (2010- 2013)
The Empty Homes Delivery Plan highlights the key challenges around empty homes in
Oldham. A number of these issues have been compounded since the Credit Crunch and
subsequent economic downturn experienced towards the end of 2008.
The Empty Homes Delivery Plan highlights our evidence and experience of empty homes in
Oldham, highlights the tools we have available to tackle empty homes and sets out our
priorities for how we will direct our investment and resources. The action plan sets out key
targets and milestones which we will work towards through 2010- 2013. The action plan has
been developed around three main actions -
• Reduce the number of empty homes in the borough
• Improve information and advice
• Improve the evidence base
The actions reflect the challenges highlighted as a result of our evidence base and through
consultations with a range of stakeholders.
2. Monitoring and Communications
The Action Plan will be monitored by the empty homes steering group on a quarterly basis.
The Action Plan will be updated on an annual basis.
We recognise it is important to share our progress with Oldham’s residents and partners.
Progress on the delivery plan will be made available to all residents and partners through the
Housing Section of the Council website. This will provide an update of actions and detail any
key achievements or particular difficulties we might be having.
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 14
Action Lead Quarter 1 2010/11 milestones Quarter 2 2010/11 milestones Quarter 3 2010/11 milestones Quarter 4 2010/11 milestones Milestones Outcome
Organisation 2011/13 2010/13
Reduce the Housing 1.1 Bring 38 empty homes back 1.7 Bring 37empty homes back 1.11 Bring 38 empty homes 1.13 Bring 37 empty homes Increase the Oldham
number of Implementation into use into use back into use back into use and at least 150 number of empty residents
empty over the year homes brought benefit from
homes in 1.2 Review performance of 1.8 Receive confirmation HMR 1.12 Review procedures and back into use improved
the FCHO refurbishment & funding for refurbishment and performance of process for 1.14 Review and update Empty neighbourhoo
Borough management of HMR assets management of an additional 8 actioning Section 215, works in Homes Action Plan Continue to ds, less anti-
HMR assets default & EDMO’s improve social
1.3 Complete the review of the performance on behaviour and
equity loan procedure 1.9 Make any necessary the back of new a greater
amendments to equity loan procedures/ tools choice of
1.4 Pilot procedures drawn up products / procedures. housing as
by consultant for Section 215, Implement the empty
works in default, EDMO’s and 1.10 Consider options of private outcome of the properties are
enforced sale sector leasing scheme private sector bought back
leasing review into use
1.5 Receive confirmation of
funding for the Bond Scheme
1.6 Develop individual targets
for officers to bring empty
homes back into use
Improve Housing 2.1 Initial phase of publicity 2.4 Complete factsheet / pack 2.6 Run story to promote the 2.7 Send letters and information All residents of
information Implementation delivered through website and for owners of empty homes work of the empty properties to owners of properties empty Oldham know
and advice publications detailing incentives & team and the new pack/ 12 months or months how to find
enforcement options available factsheet that is available information
2.2 Get empty homes link and 2.8 Get empty homes link and and advice for
headline on the front page of the 2.5 Send letters and information headline on the front page of the what to do if
Council website to owners of properties empty Council website they know of
12 months or months or own an
2.3 Review the role of the empty empty
property working group property
Improve Housing 3.1 100% of empty homes 3.5 Agree protocols for 3.7 Use Council tax data to 3.9 Use data from 6 monthly Use improved Our improved
the Implementation cases added on “Civica” information sharing between identify empty all the new empty Council tax records to record data and evidence base
evidence Housing Implementation and private homes in Oldham (12 identify the changes in empty understanding of and
base 3.2 Meet with Officers from Council Tax months or more) homes by Ward to understand local markets to understanding
Council Tax to discuss results of how different markets work proactively target of empty
survey carried out to all long 3.6 Plot all empty homes on GIS 3.8 Survey all empty homes (12 empty homes properties
term empty homes. months or more) which have allows us to
become empty in the last six target
3.3 Use Council tax data to months resources in
identify empty all the empty the most
private homes (12 months +) effective way
3.4 Set up a system to monitor
and record the change in empty
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 15
Appendix B: Assessment form for prioritising targeting of empty homes
Empty Home Assessment Sheet
Criteria Classification Score
Impact on Marketed & well maintained 0
(Select each Overgrown and/ or unkempt garden 20
No glazing/ broken windows/ doors & windows 20
Nuisance impact 20
Property Type Detached 0
Other Voids in None 0
(Select one) 1 other empty home in adjoining terrace, semi- 5
detached pair or 2 other empty homes in same
2 or more other empty homes in adjoining 10
terrace or 3 empty homes in same street
2 or more other empty homes in the same 15
terrace or 4 or more empty homes in the same
Time Vacant 12-24 months 5
24 – 36 months 10
36 months + 15
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 16
Appendix C: Empty homes process flow diagram
Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 17