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More than three quarters of British adults believe the government should prioritise the issue of empty homes, according to a new poll. Some 36% said that empty homes are a blight on their local area and 74% believe their local authority should place a higher priority on tackling empty homes, according to the research from the Halifax and the Empty Home Agency, a national charity. The research, published to mark national empty homes week, also highlighted that those people surveyed severely underestimated the number of empty homes in England, with 80% of English adults believing there were fewer empty properties in England than there actually are. The survey found people on average thought there were around 377,000 empty homes in England, whereas statistics from the Empty Homes Agency show the figure is over 610,000. Young first time buyers are clearly a concern for the British public, as two thirds of respondents said that empty homes should be used to help young people get on the housing ladder. Just a third of respondents, 34%, believe that turning empty homes into usable homes is not going to help solve the housing crisis. ‘Halifax has adapted its lending policy to allow greater flexibility around uninhabited, mortgaged properties. In order to assist with returning empty homes to a habitable condition, requests for consent to enter into Private Sector Leasing arrangements are now considered once eligibility has been confirmed by the local authority,’ said Craig McKinlay, Halifax mortgages director. ‘With over 610,000 empty properties in England alone there is a real opportunity to introduce a range of incentives for owners to bring these properties back into use. A lot has been achieved over the last few years, but there is a need for all affected parties to continue to work together to address the issue of empty homes,’ he added. Helen Williams, chief executive of the Empty Homes Agency, wants all political parties to pledge that if they form the next government they will adopt a plan to tackle empty homes within their first year as part of a wider approach to tackling housing need. ‘There appears to be widespread recognition amongst political parties of the need to build more homes. However, we now need political parties to catch up with public opinion and also give a priority in the future to bringing empty homes back into use to help young people and others access the housing they need, at a price they can afford,’ she said. Continue reading →
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