Oxford City Council is refurbishing a four bedroom home in Rose Hill which has been empty since the death of its owner in 1989.
100 Spencer Crescent had been a council home until it was purchased under Right to Buy in 1988. As executors of the owner’s estate never applied for probate, the house remained in legal limbo until the council successfully applied for a compulsory purchase order (CPO) last year.
Government guidance states that a CPO can only be made if there is a compelling case in the public interest. There are more than 2,100 households on the council’s housing waiting list.
The council is undertaking an estimated £40,000 in extensive repairs and refurbishment of the property. It will then let the home on a lifetime tenancy to a family on its housing waiting list.
Works needed before the home can be redecorated include removing asbestos, installing cavity wall insulation, and replacement of the roof, guttering and pipes, electrical wiring, windows, kitchen, bathroom, boiler and central heating.
Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing, said: “The last time someone lived in this house was nearly thirty years ago, when the Berlin Wall was still standing. For more than 20 years, we encouraged the executors to bring the house back into use, and CPO was a last resort. As this is Empty Homes Week, I’m really pleased it will soon be a much-needed council home again.
“There are around 300 empty homes in Oxford, and 78 of these have been empty for more than two years. We want to bring every one of them back into use. We would much prefer to work with and encourage owners or executors to do this. If you’ve got an empty home, you can help us to meet housing need and alleviate Oxford’s housing crisis – please get in touch with our Empty Residential Property Officer about how we can help you.”
More information about how the council works with owners and executors to bring empty properties back into use is at www.oxford.gov.uk/emptyhomes