Councils demand powers to take over empty houses to solve homelessness

Councils want powers to take over empty homes to tackle the housing crisis.

Chris McLaughlin 

They expect hundreds of thousands will need help after the ban on bailiff evictions imposed during the pandemic was lifted last week.

Official stats say 268,385 homes are empty for over six months.

And there were 280,000 people in temporary digs such as hostels and B&Bs even before the pandemic, according to Shelter.

The Local Government Association wants to move families into homes that have been empty for six months or more.

Its spokesman David Renard said: “Lifting the ban on evictions will leave some households on a cliff edge of becoming homeless.”

Ben Beadle, of the National Residential Landlords Association, added: “A quarter of those in arrears face court orders and damage to their credit score, which makes it harder for them to access new housing.

“We need an interest-free, government hardship loan for tenants.”

The Ministry of Housing said: “We have given councils tools to tackle empty homes, including the power to increase council tax by up to 300% on these properties, and take over the management of homes that have been empty for a long period.”