Real leadership is needed if councils are going to prioritise work to bring empty homes back into use, says the RLA.
The association’s vice-chair and director for Wales Douglas Haig addressed the Welsh government’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee inquiry into empty properties at the Senedd today, calling for the issue of empty homes to be brought higher up the agenda.
He said the government made a good start, in introducing the empty homes loan a few years ago, but that more work needs to be done to consider why there are empty homes in the first instance.
The told the committee councils often lack the expertise to effectively manage schemes to bring homes back into use, and that specialists need to be resourced to bring about positive change.
He also said changes to data protection rules and the introduction of GDPR has made it more difficult for landlords to identify homes that have been left empty as they no longer have access to council lists.
He said blanket schemes will not work – and stressed the importance of there being a business case for each individual property to be improved if projects are to be successful.
He also said the government should focus on areas where there is a high demand for homes, such as Swansea, where there are currently 2,500 empty properties.
In his closing remarks he said it is important that the standard of work means the homes will be available for rent for the foreseeable future.
He said: “We want them to be brought back into use to a decent standard for people to live in for the long term.”
To watch the evidence session in full click her and see below.Douglas Haig begins giving his evidence at two minutes in.
To read the RLA’s submission to the Welsh government’s official consultation on the issue click here.