Oxford City Council is marking National Empty Homes Week (16 to 22 October 2017) with a call to all Oxford landlords to help bring more empty properties back into use.
While there are still several hundred empty homes in Oxford, the number is falling.
Cllr Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing, said: "It's disappointing that any property is left empty in a city with such high housing needs. Empty Homes Week is an opportunity to focus on what the City Council and its partners, housing providers and community organisations and homelessness charities are doing to bring these empty properties back into use.
"As accommodation is in such short supply, it's crucial that any property left empty is brought back into use as soon as possible. Oxford City Council is encouraging property owners to work with us to help achieve this.”
In 2015, there were 365 homes in Oxford that had been empty for six months or longer. This reduced to 303 by March 2017 with less than 70 of these empty for more than two years. Last year, 22 homes were brought back into use directly as a result of City Council intervention. The Council is currently pursuing a Compulsory Purchase Order for one long term empty house in Spencer Crescent, Rose Hill.
Additionally the Council intends to apply Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) on more empty properties. These allow the takeover of a property's maintenance and management where landlords have failed to do so.
Cllr Rowley added: "This is not just about domestic properties though. There are empty commercial buildings in Oxford that might be used to house homeless people or those in housing need. We need to make sure that any potential buildings are both safe and suitable for this purpose and that specialist support is in place to help homeless people get off the streets for good.
"The City Council is talking to Oxford University and other property owners to see if we can identify buildings that have real potential to be used in this way and I'm encouraged that the University is genuinely committed to work with us on this."
It's easy for anyone to report an empty private sector property to Oxford City Council.
More information on Empty Homes Week.