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Review of empty council houses highlights room for improvement, and good practice

 Empty houses

When the Citizen newspaper (27 July) highlighted an empty council house in Stantonbury alarm bells began to ring. Cabinet housing boss, Cllr Nigel Long, set in progress an immediate review of council performance in letting council properties. 

Cllr Long also undertook a case study of a three-bedroom property in West Bletchley that had become vacant three days before the story in the Citizen. The next-door neighbour had told Cllr Long about the property becoming empty. The results of the case study are set out in the annex below.

Cllr Long’s review showed:

  1. The Council property in Stantonbury was not owned by Milton Keynes Council, but by Brent Council.
  2. The turn around of empty Council houses took an average of 21.6 days in the period between April to July this year. That compares with an average of 30 days in 2017-2018. This is an improvement on last year, but still exceeds the target of 15 days per property.
  3. The case study shows a property being let in 12 days. (Annex A)
  4. There are 18 long term voids. 11 of these are in Buckland Lodge. They have been empty for many years. There are a number of street properties that need a lot of work.

Cllr Nigel Long said, “I would like to thank the Citizen for highlighting the empty property in Stantonbury, which is owned by a London Council. I have written to the Leader of Brent Council about it. I have also started a review of the Councils performance on re-letting empty properties. Overall the Council is doing well, but we need to do better.”

Cllr Long added, “I have also looked at the 18 long term voids, out of a stock of 12,000 properties. We need to tackle some specific problems here, especially the problem at Buckland Lodge. We need to improve here.”

Cllr Long continued, “I have started to review individual properties. The letting of a three bedroom property in West Bletchley in 12 days shows what can be achieved.”

Annex A

Step

Date

Potential Void

Length (Days)

Tenancy ended

23 July

 

Keys received

24 July

 

Keys to Mears

24 July

 

Void inspection report

(entered directly on to system)

25 July

 

Offered

28 July

 

Anticipated Ready Date

4 August

12

 

 

 

Cllr Long added, “I spoke with the neighbours on the day the keys went to Mears and they were on site doing up the property that day. They had spoken to the maintenance team doing the work. This property was relatively easy to deal with because it was in a good state and needed only limited work to make it ready for re-letting. But it does highlight what can be achieved. I want this good practice rolled out across all future voids.”

 

Contact

Contact: Cllr Nigel Long: 07799 035756

 

Image: (c) vega at fotolia.com

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