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EXECUTIVE: York aims to reduce empty homes even more

Published Wednesday, 11 March 2020

An audit of long-term empty homes shows there are fewer than originally understood with York having low numbers in relation to national and regional figures.

Action to bring more homes back into use is being suggested to senior councillors.

Following a motion put to full Council last year, the audit found that while the proportion of empty properties in the city is very low, a significant number of those reported as empty were found to be occupied.

Nationally, York has one the lowest numbers of comparable UK cities with long-term empty homes representing 0.6% of the total. Figures from 2018 show York had 0.6%, with Plymouth having 1% and Oxford lowest at 0.4%. York has the lowest percentage of long term empty homes in the North Yorkshire region. The latest figures from 2019 show 0.7% in York, while the highest in the region are in Richmondshire with 1.4% and Selby has 1%.

The local audit has shown that at least 35% of all properties recorded as being empty for Council Tax purposes in York, are in fact currently occupied or are about to be occupied in the very near future. Only 150 properties were confirmed to be empty and almost half of those were found to be either undergoing refurbishment, for sale or to let or awaiting occupation/site redevelopment. 74% of these properties were in excellent, good or average condition.

Councillor Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Communities, said: “Properties can be empty for many reasons but each represents a potential and much-needed home, therefore although the numbers remain very low I have asked for a progress report to be brought back in six months.

“York’s housing market is under pressure and the council will continue to support owners to bring properties back into use using a range of measures including advice, financial support in the form of loans, referrals to the Yorhome scheme and ultimately enforcement action if necessary.”

Executive takes place on Thursday 19 March and will be webcast live, or is available to watch again at: www.york.gov.uk/Webcasts.

To find out more about the report, or to attend the Executive meeting, visit: https://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=733&MId=11117