Merseyside councils unite in bid to drive down empty homes

Liverpool City Council is joining forces with local authorities across Merseyside and Cheshire to host a free ‘Empty Homes Event’.

The unique advice clinic at Liverpool Town Hall on Wednesday, March 20, aims to offer support to owners of empty properties across the region on a wealth of issues.

There will be a host of information and empty property owners can browse stalls to learn about Council services and their empty property schemes, or attend seminars on topics including selling a property at auction, probate, universal credit and fire safety. 

The drop-in session is an initiative from the Merseyside and Cheshire Sub Regional Empty Homes Group to help reduce the number of empty privately-owned homes across the region.

In Liverpool, the city council has reduced the number of empty properties from 13,500 to 9,500 over the last decade but it remains an issue as homes are constantly becoming empty – particularly in the private rented sector which accounts for more than 30 percent of the city’s housing stock.

Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for housing, Councillor Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “Empty properties are wasted homes and can cause blight that impacts on the whole neighbourhood.

“We’ve made huge strides in bringing down the number of long term vacant properties in recent years and projects like our matchmaking service is part of a new approach to stimulate the market and create even more new affordable homes for families.

“We are regularly approached by investors enquiring about empty homes in the city so we know the demand is there – and we’re hopeful events such as this advice clinic with our sister councils will help drive the number down further.

“This is all part of a comprehensive action plan to improve housing in the city, which also includes our Landlord Licensing scheme to drive up standards in the private rented sector.”

Key successes in the city include Toxteth’s Welsh Streets where Plus Dane Housing, in partnership with Liverpool City Council and Homes England, is remodelling 127 properties – most for affordable rent, while Placefirst are delivering 294 refurbished and new build properties in a scheme which has won several national awards.

Liverpool City Council has also pledged to acquire and refurbish empty homes as part of its new housing company, Foundations, which aims to create 10,000 homes over the next few years.

And the council has also established a special matchmaking service to help sell empty homes and now has over 100 investors ready and willing to buy empty homes, including some which need refurbishing.

• Owners of an empty property wishing to register for the matchmaking scheme should email Emptyhomes@liverpool.gov.uk