Sefton Council is supporting Empty Homes Week 2023, which is taking place from Monday 27th February to Sunday 5th March.

One of this year’s themes is highlighting successful local initiatives by councils across the country that help to bring wasted empty homes back into use.

In Sefton, the Council is introducing an Empty Homes Premium to Council Tax bills to try and tackle the issue.

Charges for properties that have been empty or unfurnished for more than 10 years will be raised by 300% meaning an overall 400% Council Tax charge will be payable. This change will take effect from 1st April 2023.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said:

“At a time when there is a shortage of housing available, bringing properties that have stood empty for a long time back into use for local individuals and families is an important initiative.

“Introducing this significant Council Tax premium will help encourage people with empty properties to bring them back into use or dispose of them on to someone who will.

After: This property was a poorly managed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) above a vacant commercial property in the centre of Southport. It was the subject of an Emergency Prohibition Order in 2016, due to it being imminently dangerous to be occupied. It remained vacant for a year. In 2017 the Council carried out an Enforced Sale of the property and as a result it was purchased at auction and fully renovated, bringing both the commercial property back into use along with the residential accommodation above.

“As well as providing homes for people who need them, this will put these empty properties back into use, benefiting local communities where such vacant buildings can be a focus for problematic behaviour.”

Sefton Council will be writing to the owners of around 100 empty properties that have been identified as long-term empty to advise them about the introduction Empty Homes Premium. The letters will also explain how they can find advice and support by contacting the Housing Standards team on 0345 140 0845 or email private.housing@sefton.gov.uk.

Cllr Hardy added:

“Where possible, do try to support owners in bringing their empty properties back into use through the advice and assistance of our Housing Standards team.

“However, we do also have a range of powers and where necessary we have taken enforcement action, which has led to over 10 enforced sales in the past three years.

“People concerned about a local property that has been empty for a long time, can contact our Housing Standards team on 0345 140 0845 or email them at private.housing@sefton.gov.uk.

“And anyone who owns such as building can get in touch with the team for advice for how to start the process of bringing them back into use.”

Information about this work and a copy of the Council’s Empty Homes Plan can be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/empty-homes.

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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