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Portsmouth Council intend to force buy to let investors to sell their investment properties if they are left empty for more than six months.
Portsmouth Council’s cabinet member for housing Councillor Darren Sanders this week approved the Empty Private Property Strategy, which allows for enforcement measures if landlords fail to bring homes back into use.
This means that Portsmouth Council would be able to either take on management of properties or buy them via Empty Dwelling Management Orders and Compulsory Purchase Orders.
The move comes after government data released this week showed the number of long-term empty homes in Portsmouth rose by 101.5 per cent in the 12 months up to October 2018, totalling 939 – a larger increase than any other area in the country.
Concerns were raised at a Portsmouth Council housing meeting about the amount of empty properties in the city, and discussions took place about what measures could be used to bring them back into occupation.
Speaking about the government figures Tory councillor Luke Stubbs said: ‘I must say I did find the jump in numbers for properties left empty disturbing.’
He continued: ‘It is important that we make sure any private properties brought back into use. We know that we need more homes in the city and that we can’t simply build our way out of that situation. A solution is needed right now.’
It was agreed that Portsmouth Council will try to open discussions with buy to let landlords in the area, in order to encourage them to make their properties available before taking enforcement action.
Also revealed in a Freedom of Information request revealed was that there were 2,211 people on the council’s housing waiting list and 67 known rough sleepers in January this year.
At the same time 34 council properties were empty excluding properties requiring large-scale works, such as Leamington House and Horatia House, and those out on offer to residents.
It comes after Portsmouth Council approved higher council tax rates for empty properties.