Shelter urges more action on Empty Dwelling orders


The housing charity, Shelter, believes that local councils need more funding to tackle the problem of empty private homes.

In June 2006, local authorities in England and Wales received powers to take over and rent out properties that have been empty for at least six months.

By applying for an Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO), councils in England and Wales can take control of a private property for up to seven years.

However, Government figures show only eleven EDMOs have so far been issued.

Current estimates for England put the number of properties unoccupied for over six months at around 280,000 and the Government is predicting that the new legislation could bring one thousand properties a year back into use.

It maintains that the take-up of EDMOs is deceptive because the threat of facing an order has already persuaded many property owners to ensure that their property is occupied.

Shelter has less confidence in the “fear” factor and believes the number of properties brought back into the rental market will remain small unless the Government acts.

Caroline Davey, the charity’s deputy director of policy and campaigns, says: “Local authorities say to us they simply do not have the money or the capacity to really pursue the empty homes strategy. They are not being given the dedicated funding by central government to do that.”

For example, the City of York has 585 private homes which have been empty for more than six months but the council has not yet used its EDMO powers.

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