Mayor Joe Anderson looks at empty homes with Cllr Ann O'Byrne

Hit squad to help bring homes back to life

A hit-squad is to be set up to help tackle the problem of empty and poorly managed properties in Liverpool.

Liverpool City Council is putting together the specialist team to seek out and investigate problem landlords and take strong enforcement action where necessary.

It forms part of new plans by the city council to clamp down on poor landlords and work with Registered Providers to bring more than 1,000 empty properties back into use.

A three-year programme, which has been given the go-ahead by the Mayoral Cabinet today, will also see the city launching a range of new measures to tackle voids and improve standards of rented properties.

Extensive work has been carried out to identify priority areas in the city, where clusters of properties exist which have been vacant for more than six months. The city council will take a targeted approach to tackling these areas, which include:

• the Knowledge Quarter and Eastern Approaches, where the targeting of vacant properties will support the wider investment plans for the area
• County and Kirkdale wards in the north of the city, where tackling empty homes will support the regeneration plans within the North Liverpool Mayoral Development Zone

The council will also launch a number of other initiatives to tackle empty homes and improve the standard of empty properties in the city, including:

• the appointment of an Empty Homes Officer to work closely with Registered Providers.
• a new ‘Liverpool Standard’ for private rented housing, setting out minimum standards for property condition.
• a citywide landlord accreditation scheme, and ‘Scores on the Doors’ service which recognise good landlords.
• incentives for landlords who manage their properties well, including access to renewal funding.

It will be backed by the city council continuing to work with partners to attract new investment and draw down funding to refurbish empty properties across the city.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “These wide-ranging plans show that we are serious about dealing with the empty homes which blight our communities. By taking steps to secure every penny of funding we can, supporting landlords who want to work with us and taking action against those who don’t, we are confident we can bring more than 1,000 properties back into use.

“We know it won’t be an easy task, not least because of the significant financial challenges we are currently facing. But we are confident that by working with partners, landlords and residents we can make real in-roads into bringing new life to properties across the city and driving forward the regeneration of our neighbourhoods.”

The ‘Bringing Empty Homes Back Into Use’ programme supports the Mayor of Liverpool’s pledge to deliver 5,000 new and refurbished homes for the city by 2016.

Liverpool has achieved significant success in recent months in securing Government funding to tackle vacant properties. The city was awarded £13.5 million in ‘Clusters of Empty Homes funding’ in May which will bring over 700 empty homes back into use, including in the Anfield and Welsh Streets areas of the city.

The city is also working with Liverpool-based company Leader1 on a £25 million scheme to refurbish 149 derelict properties and build 50 new homes in Granby Four Streets, Webster Triangle and Arnside Road.

The city also hopes to build on the success of the ‘Beautiful North’ voids pilot, which brought over 200 properties back into use in 2011.

Liverpool Waterfront