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19 October 2017, 06:00
Heart's seen figures which show more than 6 hundred and 50 properties in West Suffolk are completely empty.
That includes in places like Bury St Edmunds, Brandon and Mildenhall.
The council are now trying to get them filled.
We spoke to Tennens Properties Ltd in Bury St Edmunds about it.
Barry Tennens from there told Heart, "something needs to be done, it's alot of empty properties thats just not needed in this climate at the moment."
"The American market that's based at Lakenheath and Mildenhall brings in an awful lot of business into Bury St Edmunds - but the rental caps are very high which makes affordable housing for the general public out there very hard for them to get on the ladder. With these empty properties it could be a great opportunity for them."
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing for both Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council said: “While I am sure that there are many personal reasons why a property may become empty for a while, it is also frustrating as we know that there is a real need for this housing. We have a housing register of 2378 people across West Suffolk – some of these are people looking to upsize or downsize or move into an area. But we also need landlords to work with us to provide housing. The Council simply can’t meet this need on its own.
“The owners are also missing out on rent. Our West Suffolk Lettings Partnership offers a guaranteed rental scheme and our landlord liaison officer would welcome the opportunity to discuss the services on offer.
“If it is the costs of repairing the property that is the barrier, then we also offer an Empty Homes Grant of up to £20,000 for essential works where the property has been empty for over a year. That could be ideal for a first time buyer taking on a fixer upper. We can also give the owners of these properties advice or point them in the direction of other services that may be able to help.
“That is the carrot, we also have the stick in the shape of a 150 per cent Council Tax charge on properties that have been empty for two or more years. The Council does have other powers to try to take over management of these properties to bring these homes back into use and although the number of empty homes has slowly been coming down in recent years, we will always keep these as an option where practical.”
For more on the Empty Homes Grant visithttps://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/housing/empty_houses/emptyhomesgrant.cfmor you can call 01638 719733 or 01284 757053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more on the West Suffolk Lettings Partnership guaranteed rent scheme, visithttps://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/housing/privatehousing/wslp.cfm