Rics wants government action on empty houses
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) is urging the Government to make use of an estimated 750,000 empty homes to house people who are already homeless or will become so by being repossessed.
Since June 2006, local authorities in England and Wales have had the power to issue Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) on properties that have been vacant for six months or longer.
However, EDMOs, which allow a local authority to take control of a private property for up to seven years, are rarely used.
The Rics wants the Government to further empower councils to make use of empty homes and at the same time reduce VAT on the renovation and repair of empty houses, from 15% to 5%.
Currently, houses that have been empty for two years or more qualify for a VAT discount but Rics members want to see this extended to all empty residential properties, because the move could increase the likelihood of empty houses being refurbished and then let.
Latest figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government show there are around 72,130 families homeless or in temporary accommodation in England and Wales.