Innovation in Tackling Empty Homes. Kristen Hubert Empty Homes Coordinator Scottish Empty Homes Partnership

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2 Innovation in Tackling Empty Homes Kristen Hubert Empty Homes Coordinator Scottish Empty Homes Partnership

3 Outline Why Empty Homes Background to the Partnership Scottish Empty Homes Partnership Work What is happening now? - Homes Again Project - Empty Homes Loan Fund - Other empty homes schemes

4 The Scale Over 23,000 long term private sector empty homes. Empty for 6 months or more.

5 The cost Council tax Fire/Flytipping/Vandalism Property values Local spend Lost income to owner Loss of community wellbeing

6 The Opportunity Housing supply Contributing to regeneration/town centre renewal Sustaining rural communities and schools Discouraging anti-social behaviour Restoring confidence in local property markets Cutting down on emissions from new build

7 Scottish Government 2009 Private Rented Sector Review, vol 4: recommended a national coordinating role highlighted the need for a more strategic approach to empty homes work in Scotland

8 The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership 2 year funding for Empty Homes Coordinator hosted by Shelter Scotland now extended to March To support local authorities and their partners to carry out work with private sector empty homes

9 Q: Why is it empty? A: It s got stuck somewhere reluctance to let out probate, estate or legal ownership issues bankruptcy/repossession/abandonment long term care/hospitalisation waiting for refurbishment/lack of funds buy to leave lack of awareness of options for sale/let/property chain

10 What gets it unstuck? Good Practice Lessons: Dedicated Staff/Empty Homes Officer Advice + Negotiation = kick start Incentives Enforcement

11

12 4 strands to Scottish Empty Homes Partnership s work providing tools & guides to councils facilitating relationships & training opportunities consultancy & advice recommending change to government

13

14 Other opportunities to share Scottish Empty Homes Conference 2013 Scottish Empty Homes Officer Network Seminars Scottish Empty Homes Best Practice Group

15 Empty Homes Cases Developing Process & Strategies Consultancy & Advice Staff Training & Inductions Help Applying for External Funding

16 Recommending Change to Government 2010: Vacant Dwelling Council Tax amendment to the Housing (Scotland) Act : Shared Services Projects & New Council Tax Powers 2012: National Loan Fund 2013: Housing Reuse Power

17 What is happening now? Baseline (2010) # full time staff working on empty homes in Scotland = 0 # councils offering incentives to empty home owners = 1

18 What is happening now? Today (2013) # full time staff working on empty homes in Scotland = 9 # councils offering incentives to empty home owners = 21

19 What is happening now? Empty Homes Strategies: Argyll & Bute Council Scottish Borders Council South Ayrshire Council Draft Strategies: Angus Council North Ayrshire Council

20 Homes Again Project West Dunbartonshire/ Renfrewshire Shared Services Projects Falkirk/Stirling/ Clackmannanshire

21 HOMES AGAIN PROJECT Advisory Board: Fife Council West Lothian Council East Lothian Council Scottish Borders Council Dumfries & Galloway Council Scottish Empty Homes Partnership Scottish Government Shelter Scotland Line Management 1 Empty Homes Officer covering Fife, West Lothian, & additional reporting duties 1 Empty Homes Officer covering Scottish Borders, East Lothian & Dumfries HRA

22 Homes Again Project 2 x Full Time Empty Homes Officers covering 5 Councils Total cost for year 1 = 100,000 (split between SG and the 5 member councils). No budget for loans or grants to empty home owners. Approach based on advice, negotiation and problem solving techniques

23 Homes Again Project Homes brought back into use April 2012-February 2012 = 23 Active Cases: 175+ End of year targets: 20 homes brought back into us or in train per authority. Money recovered to member councils through data cleansing April December 2012 = estimated at 9, per annum (not including arrears collected).

24 Homes Again Project 2 nd Year of the project agreed. Total cost = 90,000 (split between Scottish Government and 5 member councils) Fife have agreement for a full time officer. D&G considering a full time officer. Project won the Camelot Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Award 2012

25 Location: Whitecraig Road, Musselburgh Empty for: 2 years and 3 months EHO wrote to owner Identified owner issue: afraid if she rented it out the tenants might not pay the rent and the hassle this would create. Gave advice about options: specifically RDGS and using a letting agency to manage the tenancy. Outcome: The owner put the property into the hands of a letting agent to manage on their behalf, and a tenant who has benefited from the Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme moved into the property on 21 September 2012.

26 Location: Leafield Terrace, Dumfries Empty for: 13 years (since October 1999) EHO contacted owner (beneficiary of an estate with several empties) Identified owner issue: no money for refurbishment; unrealistic expectations. Action: EHO Arranged a site visit with council housing officers who provided an estimate of costs to refurbish Owner realised they wouldn t be able to afford refurbishment EHO helped owner develop a plan to sell this property to finance refurbishment of another empty property. Outcome: The property was sold to a new owner on the 9 August 2012.

27 BEFORE Location: Birnham Road, Kirkaldy Empty for: 6 years, 8 months AFTER Property identified through council tax and reported by neighbours. Renovation had been started but not completed. Owner replied to EHO survey: Have renovated nearly all the house, but seem to have lost the motivation to do any more. So unable to let it. EHO met with owner to discuss the situation including available VAT discounts. Following the discussion, the owner realised there wasn t that much left to do and restarted works to the property. Outcome: Works were restarted in January & the property was let to a tenant in February 2013.

28 What gets it unstuck? Good Practice Lessons: Dedicated Staff/Empty Homes Officer Advice + Negotiation = kick start Incentives Enforcement

29 What is happening now? Empty Homes Loan Fund 17 Projects = 4.5m Must be empty 6 months+ For Affordable Housing Loans to owners through LA or RSLs Spend by March 2014 Tenancy Management: -Council - HA - Private Landlord

30 What is happening now? Argyll & Bute Empty Homes Grants & Loans 3m! Perth & Kinross Grants for Vacant Property Commercial/Residential

31 What is happening now? Argyll & Bute Empty Homes Grants & Loans 3m! Whitebeam Homes: Loans & Grants aren t the only way! Perth & Kinross Grants for Vacant Property Commercial/Residential

32 Best Practice Lesson from Kevin Anderson, South Ayrshire Council:

33 No Use Empty Initiative: Achievements by Approach Compulsory Purchase Orders, Enforced Sales Procedure or Empty Dwelling Management Order CPO ESP Prosecution for non compliance of Notice or undertaking the works in default and using the County Court or Enforced Sales Procedure to recover costs Statutory Notices under a range of legislation. Owner has right of appeal. Works in Default or Prosecution Enforcement (Notices Served on Owner) CPO, EDMO & Enforced Sales (3%) After exhausting of voluntary assistance, threat of appropriate enforcement action is raised with owner Threat of Enforcement Threat of or Actual Enforcement 13% Other (Auctioneer, sale of LA land, PSL) 8% Financial Assistance / Other Assistance (Loans, grants, home improvement agency, private sector leasing) Advice and Guidance (Development advice, tax and vat, reduced fees to sell via auctioneer, guidance on extent of works, guidance on planning, raising finance) Grants 7% & Interest Free Loans 13% Advice & Guidance 59%

34 Key Points Get in touch with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership if you would like support with your empty homes work. Loans and other incentives are great but they need to be part of a wider offering of support.

35 Kristen Hubert Empty Homes Coordinator

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