10 October 2018
Kensington and Chelsea Council has written to the housing minister with an innovative idea that would let officers use homes left empty in the borough.
If granted, the powers would allow the Council to offer the properties to key workers and people on the housing waiting list.
There are more than 600 properties which have been left empty for more than two years.
Currently, councils can apply for what are called Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) to take temporary control of anti-social and dilapidated houses and flats. Kensington and Chelsea Council is asking the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government to extend the orders to all empty properties, including those that are in a good state of repair and ready to live in.
Deputy leader Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith, who is responsible for housing in the borough, said: ‘There is a housing crisis in London and in Kensington and Chelsea alone there are more than 2,000 people waiting for a council house.'
‘We also have many key workers and families who work in the borough providing vital services, but who cannot afford to rent a home here.’
Under the Council’s proposal, rent collected from tenants would be paid to the absentee owners – some of who live overseas – so the owners would not lose out. The Council would be responsible for maintaining the property.
‘In many cases these empty properties are ‘buy-to-leave’ investments,’ said Cllr Taylor-Smith. ‘We want to incentivise owners to allow us to put them to use for the be benefit of hard-pressed families and workers. Bringing families into the borough will also benefit the local economy.'
‘This will help residents, without hurting the owners who do not live in the borough.’