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Council backs Empty Homes Week

With next Monday (16 October) marking the start of National Empty Homes Week, St Helens Council is reminding residents and empty home owners of the help and support on offer to ensure they make the most of their property.

Running from 16-22 October, National Empty Homes Week is an  initiative by the Empty Homes Agency, aimed at raising awareness of the potential of empty homes to meet housing need, as well as devise and promote sustainable solutions that will bring empty homes back into use.

A property may be empty for several reasons, including local market turnover, refurbishment or probate issues. However, the council’s focus is on properties that have been empty for 12 months or more, or if they are negatively impacting others.

St Helens Council intervention prioritises homes which have been left empty for over 12 months which often attracts vandals, fly tippers and quickly becoming an eyesore and safety hazard.

An additional 50 percent council tax premium on properties left empty for two years or more is also charged by the council.

Councillor Lisa Preston, St Helens Council’s portfolio holder for housing services, said: “National Empty Homes Week is a time to celebrate local achievements in bringing empty homes back, which makes financial sense for the owner as well as benefitting the neighbourhood.

“The council always tries to negotiate with owners, offering advice and support where appropriate. This can range from information on VAT relief, to putting owners in touch with potential renters or purchasers.

“However, formal intervention may be required where owners refuse to meet their responsibilities, and this can range from serving Statutory Notices to deal with immediate issues such as rubbish and dangerous structures, to the use of Compulsory Purchase and Enforced Sale.”

For more information, go to www.sthelens.gov.uk/housing/empty-properties. If you are the owner of a vacant property contact the Empty Homes Team on 01744 676246 or email the council at contactcentre@sthelens.gov.uk.

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