Innovation Exchange

Opening Doors on Empty Homes

Introduction

Key activities

Benefits and impacts

Learning

Further Information

Due to the high levels of second and empty homes in the Argyll and Bute area, the Council was one of the first in Scotland to take advantage of the legislation which permitted the introduction of a double council tax charge for long term empty property.  We did not, however, introduce an increased council tax charge in isolation but used this facility to complement our pro-active approach to tackling the issue of empty homes.

Theme: Housing and Regeneration

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Collaborative engagement between the Empty Homes Officer and the Council Tax team resulted in the two agendas converging. The teams worked closely on the development of the council tax charging policy through to its implementation. This included cleansing data and identifying owners of long term empty properties, providing owners with advice on council tax policy and the assistance available to help bring homes back into use.

 

We have taken a strategic approach to tackling the long term empty properties in our area.  The penalty of an extra council tax charge combined with the incentive of grants, loans, bespoke information and advice and a dedicated staff resource has meant that it has been possible to provide a blend of solutions for empty home owners.

This approach has achieved quantifiable benefits for communities, householders, people in housing need and the Council.  Over 500 properties were brought back into use over the first year of the policy and there has been additional revenue generated for wider community regeneration.

 

The double council tax charge on its own would not have achieved the desired outcome of bringing homes back into use.  The success of this policy is based on the close joint working of the two teams sharing data, to ensure that owners understand the policy, who this applies to, why it has been brought in, and the benefit to the local community.  The joint approach has increased efficiency and reduced duplication of effort.

Without this joint working, such a policy would simply result in significant dissatisfaction at owners having to pay more, risk of fewer homes being brought back into use, lack of information sharing and signposting between Departments for relevant advice.

 

Through collaborative working we now have an increased understanding of the underlying reasons for homes lying empty and more accurate council tax records.   This information and continual engagement with empty home owners has highlighted the need to provide a range of options and solutions to assist owners to bring their empty homes back into use.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:

 

Moira MacVicar

Housing Service Manager

Argyll and Bute Council

01631 572184

Case study added to site: June 2016

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