10-point plan to tackle empty homes

A further 2,000 empty properties blighting communities across Liverpool are set to be brought back into use.

The Cabinet is being asked to approve a £5 million 10 point plan, to tackle ‘voids’ across the city using a range of new initiatives which includes expanding the Homes for a Pound scheme and taking more assertive action to acquire rundown properties from owners.

The proposals include:

• Establishing an empty homes task force which will draw in expertise from the public and private sector, community organisations, social enterprises and housing associations

• Additional funds for acquiring and compulsorily purchasing properties and a voluntary acquisition scheme which will see homes sold on the open market following improvement, or leased to housing associations

• An expansion of the Healthy Homes vacants scheme which tackles poorly maintained properties and then bills the owners for the work

• The launch of ‘Homes for a Pound Plus’  – a variation on the Homes for a Pound schemes but where the council will make properties structurally sound with owners required to carry out internal refurbishments

• The creation of a ‘loan and repair’ scheme to help owners make properties habitable

• The introduction of an ‘Interested Developer’ list for small investors, local builders and accredited landlords who are interested in acquiring and refurbishing empty properties in the city. They will be connected with owners looking to dispose of properties

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Empty homes are a blight on our communities and are a huge deterrent to people wanting to live in an area. 

“We have made great progress in the last two years in bringing back 1,300 properties back into use across the city, but we are not complacent and know there is much more to do if we are to tackle this issue even further.

“We want to send out a strong message to the owners of empty properties that it is simply not acceptable to allow their homes to be a magnet for fly tipping, anti social behaviour and general blight.

“They owe it to the city and their neighbours to keep their homes in good condition, and if they don’t then we will take enforcement against them.”

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “This commitment is in addition to the 1,000 homes we have already said we will bring back into use through our new strategic housing partnership with Redrow and Liverpool Mutual Homes. It takes to over 4,000 the number of empty properties we have either tackled or plan to bring back into use.

“Driving up the quality, standard and range of properties in the city is a priority, and this is just part of a much bigger picture such as the building of new homes and the introduction of landlord licensing to improve life for private sector tenants.”

The £5 million allocated for the scheme is coming from the council’s Capital programme and will be further enhanced by private investment, the recycling of funds through loan repayments, sales revenue, income from leases and charging owners for work carried out in default.

The report will be considered by the Cabinet on Friday 19 December.

Liverpool Waterfront