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Oldham's Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 Contents 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 paper we use and costs to produce it. Please think before you print out this plan. Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 2 Section 1: Tackling empty homes 1. Foreword by Chair and Vice Chair of Oldham Housing partnership 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 years. 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 street • 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. Regards, Councillor John McCann Chair of Oldham Housing Partnership and Cabinet Member for Community Services and Housing John Cockerham 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 Housing Strategy 2009-12 Affordable Private Sector Older Persons Homelessness HMR/PFI action Emerging Housing Strategy Housing Strategy Housing Strategy Strategy plans strategies and action plans Empty Homes Delivery Plan (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 improved environment 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. Population 219,600 Households 90,000 Area 142.5 km2 (Community Strategy) Oldham House Types 12% 0% 13% Other Households Flats & Maisonettes Terraced 34% Semi Detached 41% 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 15% 6% Private Stock HA/RSL Stock LA Stock 79% 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 longer. 2007/08 2008/09 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 1 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 160 146 140 125 126 114 113 120 103 102 97 93 92 100 90 85 89 77 77 80 80 68 65 69 62 60 40 20 0 th h a rton al th h t & th d Fa orth n r th h Fa r om t a rth llin t ' ad th aw es on e st y's rs es es ut ed woo o rto ndr wo out tr e r Nor or al u Ea ne hu Le pt he No en So So Sh ar am W Ro k V N S er de xa ld M er ha n C th .J n r th r th W c on le Co at to St lo or Ho C es St A yt wo wo W yt w e w W dd ils Ro le ils dd M le dd dd ad Sa C S a Sa C Ch le dd (Figure 2: Empty homes by ward) 1 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) 100% 90% 80% 70% 60+ months 60% 36 to 59 months 50% 24 to 35 months 40% 30% 12 to 23 months 20% 10% 0% th h de n N l ld h t & th R ck d ils rt h n ils om t ad n C ra dl dd or ut h .J w dd ton rth th ad rto tr a M ' W ad st R on le a t y's t es Fa Cr ur s St es or Eas th r th rt lo oo Co o ut Fa w o pto rto or St Sha e s Sou Ch rto a nd a Ho We ne or wo No he Sa o y No Le Ch de en W ar am ad Sa le w So oy V ed w h S er er M llin de ex e w le th th n ad Al t w W Ch S (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 properties 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. We have... 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. Property Xchange 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. Demolition Orders 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 Scrutiny Board. "Tackling poor quality and unscrupulous landlords should be a priority and publicising the benefits of choosing accredited landlords to prospective tenants" (Elected Members session, 2009) (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, 2009) "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. We will... • 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 Total £574,000 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 8. Contacts If you require any further information about this delivery plan, please contact the Oldham Housing Strategy team on the following: 8.1 Housing Team Housing Economy, Place and Skills Oldham Council Oldham Business Centre Cromwell Street OL1 1BB Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com 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) 1. Introduction 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 properties Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 15 Appendix B: Assessment form for prioritising targeting of empty homes Oldham Council Empty Home Assessment Sheet Address Date confirmed empty Criteria Classification Score Impact on Marketed & well maintained 0 neighbourhood (Select each Overgrown and/ or unkempt garden 20 that applies) No glazing/ broken windows/ doors & windows 20 boarded up Nuisance impact 20 Property Type Detached 0 (Select one) Semi-detached 5 Terraced 10 Other Voids in None 0 Area (Select one) 1 other empty home in adjoining terrace, semi- 5 detached pair or 2 other empty homes in same street 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 street. Time Vacant 12-24 months 5 (Select one) 24 – 36 months 10 36 months + 15 Officer Total Score Signature 100 Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 16 Appendix C: Empty homes process flow diagram Oldham Empty Homes Delivery Plan 2010- 2013 17
"Empty Homes Delivery Plan"