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Council commits to bringing empty homes back into use

Lewes District Council has declared its commitment to getting empty homes back into use as affordable housing for local people who need it, as a national campaign week gets underway.

Empty Homes Week 2024

Empty Homes Week 2024
The charity Action on Empty Homes is running National Empty Homes Week 2024 from today (March 4) to Sunday, March 10, and highlighting how councils across the country are taking action to bring redundant housing back to life.

Councillor Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes District Council, said: "I fully support this campaign - it's simply not right that we have homes standing empty while there is a severe shortage of housing for people in Lewes district.

"We are taking steps to create more affordable homes locally while helping to get rid of eyesore empty properties from our communities."

Among the council's initiatives is the introduction of council tax premiums of up to 300 per cent for owners of long-term empty properties in Lewes district from April this year. Currently, all long-term empty homes are subject to a 50 per cent premium.

Additionally, the council is promoting its Direct Lets scheme which helps landlords and owners of empty homes rent to people on the council's housing register. The benefits for landlords include direct rent payments, no commission or finders' fees, free tenant referencing, financial help to update safety certificates or carry out minor repairs, as well as having a National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) approved rent guarantor. More details are available at www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/DirectLets

The council is also carrying out regular reviews of long-term empty properties and encouraging residents to report any empty homes that are causing concern in their neighbourhood at www.lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/contact-us-form.

Councillor Mark Slater, Cabinet Member for Tenants and Those in Housing Need, said: "We have over 300 long-term empty properties in the district and 500 families on our council housing waiting list. We'd love to see some of those empty homes made available to them. Meanwhile, I would urge the government to give us the support we need to tackle the housing crisis and build more new, high quality, energy efficient council homes in our community."

Published on March 4, 2024.

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