Statement on bringing empty homes back into use from councillor Mike Rowley, cabinet member for affordable housing:
“Given the scarcity and cost of housing in Oxford we can ill afford perfectly decent homes remaining empty so we’ve employed an empty homes officer since 2005. National figures show that Oxford City Council is in the top 20 percent of better performing councils for bringing empty homes back into use.
”There are currently 438 empty homes in Oxford. 116 of these have been empty because of major renovations or the death of the owner, 230 have been empty for between six months and two years, with the remaining 92 unoccupied for more than two years.
“We work with executors and owners of empty homes to bring them back into use. In 2018/19 council intervention brought 21 empty homes back into use and we’ve already brought a further 20 properties back into use since April, so we’re on target to improve on last year’s performance.
“Our preferred approach is to engage with and encourage owners and executors but we will consider enforcement action where someone is unable or unwilling to bring a home back into use.
“In 2017 we obtained a compulsory purchase order (CPO) for a four bedroom home in Rose Hill that had been empty since the death of its owner in 1989. This has now been refurbished and let as a lifetime home to a family on our housing register.
“Our legal powers to deal with empty homes are limited. Government guidance states that a CPO can only be made if there is a compelling case in the public interest.
“Empty dwelling management orders (EDMOs) allow us to take over the maintenance and management of empty homes for up to seven years, but only if they have been unoccupied for more than two years and cause a nuisance in the community – for instance, because they have been vandalised. EDMOs have a limited value in helping bring empty homes back into use.
“Although we will look at obtaining a CPO or EDMO when all else fails, we would much prefer to come to agreements with owners or executors of estates to bring empty properties back into use. If you’ve got an empty property you can help us to alleviate housing need in Oxford – please speak to our Empty Residential Property Officer about how we can help you.”
If you are aware of an empty home please contact our Empty Residential Property Officer on 01865 252280 or report it on our website.