[C]OPELAND residents are being asked to identify empty homes in their neighbourhoods.
Copeland Council has a dedicated Empty Homes Officer whose role is to reduce the number of vacant homes in the borough.
There are currently 1,193 empty homes on the council’s register; 343 of which have been empty for more than two years and 56 are described as ‘uninhabitable’.
The council logs details of each empty home – working on both council tax records and information from the public – and prioritises them on the condition they are in and the length of time they have been empty.
Work with property owners can then take place to bring the home back into use, ranging from advice to owners on selling or renting their home, or highlighting enforcement options if the properties should deteriorate.
Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, said: “The total figure for empty properties includes many properties that may only be temporarily empty for a number of reasons. For example, some will be rented properties that are simply ‘between tenants’. Many homes are being renovated before the owners move in, so are technically ‘empty’. Some homes are in probate; some may simply be taking a long time to sell.
“There are properties however that have been empty for a number of years. This is often because the owner does not have the funds to carry out the necessary work but is reluctant to sell. Sometimes people are not sure what they can do with their empty homes and it may become a worry. We can assist as there are several options available and we encourage owners to get in touch to discuss what is on offer.
“We are always looking to reduce the number of empty homes and we actively work with the owners of empty properties to encourage, assist and sometime enforce change.
“Currently we have an empty homes officer in place working specifically with home owners. The officer locates empty homes, prioritises them and contacts a selection. In addition, whenever we receive a complaint we take action, we look at the condition, length of time empty and what effect they have on the rest of the community.
“Owners are firstly helped to look at the best way of improving and using the property. This could mean advising on help to let properties, linking them with agencies who can assist with repairs so they can be sold, or advising on auctioning properties. When appropriate we explain what enforcement action could be taken should the home deteriorate.
“If residents know of a property that has remained empty for some time, they can report it via our customer services team on 01946 598300, or email [email protected] and we will investigate.”