PLANS to make use of unoccupied housing in Waverley are slowly becoming a reality, according to new statistics.
The empty homes scandal, which saw 677 homes in Waverley left unoccupied for at least six months has been a headache for the council for years. And, despite its efforts, the figure only decreased to 615 last year.
Statistics for 2019 reveal that 22 homes sat empty for ten years or more, compared to 29 recorded in 2018.
However, the value of homes left unoccupied for two years is worth £31 million alone.
Last year ‘Your Waverley’ said it was working to “bring these properties into use and using council tax to deter owners from leaving properties empty.” Changes made by the government gave council’s the right to charge 50 per cent extra council tax on homes empty over two years. These changes are now paying off.
Said a council spokesman: “Our private sector housing team works very hard to encourage owners to bring vacant homes back into use, so it is good to see the number of empty properties in the borough falling.”
The decrease in the number of empty homes is attributed to the changes in council tax premiums, with homes empty for more than ten years being charged 300 per cent council tax.
“The council is also working very hard to increase the amount of affordable housing in the borough, as we currently have 1046 households on our Housing Register.
“We carefully manage our housing and land assets to enable us to invest in high-quality new homes for affordable rent, building 45 in 2018.
“We are also investing in new shared ownership properties and continuously working with developers in order to maximise the number of affordable housing in new developments across the borough.”