Plans to reduce the number of empty properties in Wales have been put forward by a cross-party group of Assembly-Members.
Some the proposals, outlined in a new report by the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee which frequently cites the RLA, include:
- The Welsh Government should work with local authorities to develop a national action plan for tackling empty properties, emphasise the importance of community based approaches and works with local authorities to understand the impact that having a specific officer with responsibility for empty properties can make.
- The Welsh Government should provide training for local authority officers and members on the enforcement options available to assist them in tackling empty properties.
- There should be clarification on the legal position around local authorities sharing information relating to empty properties and provide guidance. This should include viable alternatives if local authorities are restricted in what they can share due to the General Data Protection Regulations
- The possibility of ring-fencing revenue collected by local authorities through the council tax premium on empty homes should be explored, to be used specifically for housing purposes. The Welsh Government should report back to the Assembly on its findings.
The RLA provided evidence to the ELGC inquiry into empty properties, and also responded to the consultation on the subject.
In July, RLA Vice Chair and Director for Wales Douglas Haig addressed the inquiry into empty properties at the Senedd, calling for the issue of empty homes to be brought higher up the agenda.
Many of the RLA’s recommendations have been included in the report published today-including clarifying a local authorities position when it comes to sharing information due to GDPR, and training up staff to give them the expertise to effectively manage schemes to bring homes back into use.
To read the ELGC empty property report in full, click here.