Agenda item

Draft Empty Homes Strategy 2023-2028


The Service Manager (Housing Options) presented the Committee with the Draft Empty Homes Strategy 2023 – 2028. The purpose of this report was to provide the Housing Services Cabinet Committee with an overview of the strategy and to give Members the opportunity for comment prior to approval by Cllr Jenny Wallace, Cabinet Member for Housing Services.


The Service Manager (Housing Options) highlighted the following key points from the report:


  • The Empty Homes service transferred from Housing Development to Private Sector Housing on 1 January 2023.
  • The previous Empty Homes Strategy expired in 2019.
  • At the time of writing the strategy, Gravesham had a total of 661 empty properties with 336 of those being empty for a period of at least six months.
  • There was a wording error with the use of the term ‘grant’ on page 24, which should have stated ‘loan’.
  • A Corporate Working Group was being set up to have representation across the Council. The first meeting was due to take place in February 2023.


Following questions and comments from Members, the Service Manager (Housing Options) explained that:


  • The empty properties discussed were privately owned housing and not Council owned housing.
  • Homes were declared empty for a number of factors, such as sentimental reasons, inherited properties, and second homes. These were identified through the council tax system.
  • The Corporate Working Group would help to calculate the impact of legislation on empty homes, such as the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill with council tax helping to shape the approach to empty homes to produce a proactive service.
  • The Director (Housing) explained that statistically, second home ownership in Gravesham was relatively low and therefore, it was not thought that the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill would have a huge impact.
  • Members can help by reporting any known empty properties.
  • The Housing Services Team were working with Communications to gain publicity on what they’re doing, when and how empty properties can be reported.
  • The website was being updated to make it more effective.
  • National Empty Homes Week would provide the team with information regarding what tools they have at their disposal. The Service Manager (Housing Options) was happy to report back to the Committee on what strategies they planned to use to promote the identification of empty homes.
  • The Housing Services Team were working closely with different departments across the Council, such as Communications, Digital, Enforcement and Private Sector Housing, as well as KCC’s No Use Empty Scheme to identify what other areas were doing to help identify any gaps.
  • The Service Manager (Housing Options) assured Members that they held confidence in the service and would do the best they could to bring empty homes back into use.
  • Marketing strategies targeted towards Landlords presented them with what’s on offer and provided them with an analysis on how much rental income they could generate, as well as information regarding GBC helping them to find a suitable tenant.
  • The Empty Homes Strategy would be reviewed every year to ensure that it’s kept up to date with new legislation.
  • The Service Manager (Housing Options) agreed to circulate a link to the Committee Members regarding KCCs No Use Empty Scheme.
  • The Service Manager (Housing Options) agreed to find out more information on the exemptions of eligibility.
  • Landlords were protected by Landlord Insurance Packages and a Landlord Liaison Service if problems arose with a tenant.
  • After a meeting with the Communications team, the ways in which the Empty Homes Week could be promoted were explored.


The Committee noted the report.


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