Banishing the blight of empty properties

By on 24/06/2009 in News

The number of empty properties in the private sector has hit an all time low in Birmingham, following action by the Council.

Whilst there are 72,329 vacant dwellings across the West Midlands, in Birmingham the number of empty properties stands at just under 9000- down from 14,000 in 2003.

Birmingham City Council is working proactively to banish empty properties in neighbourhoods across the city, by bringing them back into use for much needed family accommodation.

Nationally, empty homes account for 3 per cent of the current housing stock. Earlier this year, former Housing Minister Margaret Beckett praised Birmingham City Council for its approach in tackling empty properties after it was recognized for helping the number of empty homes in England decline by 9 per cent over the past decade.

Empty homes not only restrict housing supply, poorly maintained empty properties attract vermin, cause damp and other problems for neighbouring properties. The Council works in consultation with various partners, including local residents, the Police and Fire Services to investigate and identify empty properties and bring them back into use.

It also gives home owners advice and information to encourage them to bring the properties back into use. Where required, the Council uses a range of legal powers to bring properties back into use including Compulsory Purchase Orders, but this is only as a last resort.

Councillor John Lines, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This is an incredible achievement for Birmingham, at a time when empty homes are rising in other parts of the country. It’s crucial in today’s economic climate to bring much needed homes back into use for occupation by families who really need them and this is a priority for us.

“I’m delighted by the work of our Private Sector Empty Property Team, which works closely with owners in Birmingham to understand why the houses are lying empty and how to bring them back into use.

“We aim to continue to build on this to ensure Birmingham has largest, highest housing quality stock possible to accommodate existing and future citizens.”

The Council launched its Empty Property Strategy in 2007, which detailed how it would tackle empty properties across all tenures.

The Empty Property team can be contacted on 303 7978 and


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Notes to Editors
1. Tackling empty properties:
i. Each of the properties have been empty for a considerable period of time.
ii. Owners have ignored at least three letters from the council in the last 12 months.
iii. Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) are made under Part II of the Housing Act 1985.
iv. The council will withdraw the CPO if a property is improved by the owner and occupied.
v. Once sold the new owner will be required to improve the property within one year.
vi. 2006 figures are from the Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) returns that each authority submits to the Communities and Local Government.
2. According to The Empty Homes Agency, there are an estimated 870,000 empty homes in the UK and enough empty commercial property to create 420,000 new homes. About one in 20 homes in the country is empty.
3. The overall vacancy rate nationally has reduced by 9 per cent since 1997 from 763,234 to 697,055, and reached a peak in 1993 with 764,000 homes lying empty.

Further information from Belinder Kaur Lidher on 0121 303 6969

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