Sunday, 18 April 2010

Nice (Empty) House. We’ll Take it…

David Gibbens (who we are told ‘leads on policy for the National Association of Empty Property Practitioners’) has an article in ‘CiF’ advocating government-sponsored theft:
Your special report that uncovered almost half a million long-term empty dwellings in the UK highlighted an issue that everyone is concerned about
Eh..? I’m not.

I don’t know anyone who is, either.
This "startling picture of neglect" had to be "pieced together using information gathered from local councils under the Freedom of Information Act," you report, highlighting the underlying reason for this state of affairs – the lack of any meaningful national strategy on empty homes.
There’s no ‘meaningful national strategy’ on untidy gardens. Or unused cars. Perhaps that’s an indication that they are just not a problem?
Indeed, despite the complexities and importance of empty-homes work, there is not a single Whitehall official dedicated to the issue – no champion.
Because if you have a Whitehall champion, you have….

What, exactly?
But perhaps the real scandal was not picked up by your article. You'd expect a government that cared to insist that its own agencies account for the empty homes. Instead, every year, the government forces the country's 300-plus housing authorities to contact all the public bodies in their area to gather the figures.
And if they had a central agency, what would they do with that information?

We don’t know. He doesn’t tell us.
Central government should take a lead on the empty homes issue. It should set itself targets, as it did with the Rough Sleepers Initiative. It should systematically examine the obstacles to bringing empty houses back into use, and address them.
It should support local initiatives, maintain skills, develop delivery vehicles and ensure value for money by helping local authorities share specialist resources. It is currently failing to do any of this.
It sounds an awful lot like he believes there should be a brand new quango, doesn’t it?
As the election approaches, the parties will want to talk up their empty-homes policies.
They will..? I don’t see anyone requesting this, other than…well, you.
Some are touting short-term spending sprees to buy up empty properties. But this would simply fuel the continuing house-price bubble by adding to demand when supply is limited.
I fail to see how you are going to get empty homes filled unless the owners sell them.

Empty homes on the market at the right price will sell: no need to pump in public money to get them occupied. If they're not on the market, what's the point in dishing out hundreds of millions of pounds to buy them?
So to save those hundreds of millions of pounds, you’ll what? Steal them? Force owners to rent them to the local authority (same thing)?

Why won’t you tell us what your plan is? What are you afraid of?

After all, it’s not like we can’t see what your plans are on your own website, is it?
Other NAEPP initiatives

Empty Dwelling Management Orders (compulsory leasing). NAEPP member representation has been crucial in lobbying for new tools for practitioners, and in contributing to the ongoing development of both concept and new legislation.


Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

All your houses are belong to us.

Clarissa said...

Ironically this subject came up in the election leaflet from my local independent councillor. She was boasting about enacting the first EDMO in the county, describing it as the owner retaining ownership whilst the council recoups the money spent by renting it out to someone on the housing list.

Antisthenes said...

Who will promptly trash it. I know from experience.

When will these goons realise that carrots are better than sticks if you want owners to rent or sell then put in place the right conditions and incentives.

KenS said...

It should support local initiatives, maintain skills, develop delivery vehicles and ensure value for money by helping local authorities share specialist resources.

"support local initiatives" = do bugger all.
"maintain skills" = do bugger all.
"develop delivery vehicles" - what has a replacement for the Ford Transit got to do with this?
"ensure value for money" = do bugger all.
"helping local authorities share specialist resources" = do bugger all.

(I just got full house on buzzword bingo)

JuliaM said...

"She was boasting about enacting the first EDMO in the county..."

And as Antisthenes notes out, what has happened to that house? Is it still standing?

"(I just got full house on buzzword bingo)"


It's a rare charity website these days that DOESN'T look like it was produced by Whitehall...

Anonymous said...

Ooh, look. NAEPP started up in 2001, with the help of government ministers. Do you think they might've had an inkling that they'd be causing a housing shortage via their immigration policy?

It's hardly surprising there are so many empty homes. At the beginning of the millenium, Labour positively encouraged people to buy to let, allowing them to add such properties to their pension plans.

Then, it pulled the rug from under such buyers. In came a swathe of regulations and taxes and now, they're no longer welcome in pension plans.

Not only that, but extra regulations have been added for tenancies. Extra licences and insurance policies galore. Not to mention Energy Performance Certificates - for renting, for heaven's sake! Taxed, of course.

So who can afford to rent out properties? I'm just breaking even on mine. Except when tenants trash the place (my previous tenant managed to break practically everything she could lay her hands on).

Anonymous said...

They have to institute a strategy for stealing the empty homes in private ownership. Because their next target will be private homes which they consider "under-occupied". They already have their claws in vast swathes of property owned by elderly folk who need to go into a residential neglect home. In future, they won't want to wait for you to get old and frail, they will want your house as soon as your kids leave home.

The very concept of private property offends these creeps.