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Concern about number of empty properties in Redbridge amidst the housing shortage

PUBLISHED: 15:56 10 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:56 10 January 2018

Councillor Gwyneth Deakins said these homes should be turned into afforadable places to live for residents. Picture: John Giles/PA Archive/PA Images

Councillor Gwyneth Deakins said these homes should be turned into afforadable places to live for residents. Picture: John Giles/PA Archive/PA Images

John Giles/PA Archive/PA Images

More than 550 homes in Redbridge have been sitting empty for at least six months, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The figures, uncovered through Freedom of Information requests, show that, of 559 homes that have been empty for six months or more, 80 had been empty for two years or more, 25 for five years or more, and five have stood empty for at least 10 years.

They accused Redbridge Council of failing to make use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO), powers used by local authorities to take over properties that have been empty for two years.

Councillor Gwyneth Deakins, Leader of the Redbridge Liberal Democrat Group, said: “With such a shortage of homes in Redbridge, as elsewhere in London, it is concerning that the council do not seem to have got to grips with the problem of empty homes.

“These homes could be turned into affordable places to live for those that need it across Redbridge.

“I will be asking the council why they have failed to use the powers that are available to them to end this scandal.”

A Redbridge Council spokeswoman said the current local authority policy and practice is to contact and work with owners of empty properties as far as possible.

“Where owners are willing to work with the council, we try to assist them in bringing the property back into use, including providing access to financial assistance (Empty Property Grants) for required building work – linked to a condition of the council having nomination rights for tenants for five years,” she said.

“The council does include the use of EDMOs as an enforcement option together with Enforced Sales and Compulsory Purchase action.

“We have not imposed any EDMOs in 2016/17, the threat of enforcement sanctions can often be enough to encourage owners to engage with the local authority and to take steps towards bringing their properties back into use.

“The current council 
approach to empty properties 
has resulted 107 empty properties being brought back into use following local authority intervention in 2016/2017 and is included as a priority area in our Housing Strategy”

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