London councils request for power to take over ‘ghost homes’

A council in west London has asked for new powers to take control over what is known to be ‘ghost homes’

A council in west London has asked for new powers to take control over what is known to be ‘ghost homes’ and use them for council tenants when they are left untenanted for a long duration.

Kensington and Chelsea council’s deputy leader Kim Taylor-Smith has contacted the housing minister to request for an overhaul of its power to take over unoccupied houses.

Smith stated the increasing demands for social housing in west London borough had been “framed by the Grenfell tragedy”, whereby led to the lost of lives of 72 people also left hundreds of council tenants homeless in June 2017.

Kensington and Chelsea was asserted to have a “huge-buy to leave investment market”, which meant that properties are bought and left unoccupied, frequently to accrue value.

Taylor Smith clarified that 621 properties in the borough have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years, 347 of which are “amongst some of the most expensive in the borough”, inclusive of one worth almost £30 million.

“At the same time, many residents are desperate for a place of their own, cannot afford to rent or buy in the borough in which they were born, live and work. This disparity does not sit easily with the council’s leadership team.”

An Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) is necessary for a local authority to temporarily seize properties and provide them to social tenants, however Taylor Smith outlined it as “cumbersome, slow and expensive, making its use prohibitive”.

The use of EDMOs were prohibited in 2012 however, Smith insists that the prerequisite for a council to illustrate vandalism had reduced the use of EDMOs.

His request recommended offering a “favourable tax scheme” on rent income owners of property.

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