Council is right to act now on empty homes
It’s almost inconceivable to think that in this bustling, crowded city, there are at least 3,150 empty homes – the biggest increase in property vacancies within a year, in the country.
How can it be possible? Walk through the Guildhall Square or Commercial Road and you will be confronted with the reality of the housing crisis Portsmouth is dealing with.
There are scores of registered homeless. And a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper has revealed the council housing waiting list currently stands at 2,211.
So that is why it almost beggars belief that there are thousands of properties sitting empty across the city.
And why the action being taken by Portsmouth City Council is so vital if something is to be done about the dire need for more housing.
Why are these homes empty? Buy-to-let properties? It doesn’t matter really – they could be housing families desperately in need.
Perhaps landlords would rather they were empty with slow increases in price rather then rent them out and risk the wear and tear of rental.
What a sad state of affairs.
Portsmouth City Council's cabinet member for housing Councillor Darren Sanders has approved the Empty Private Property Strategy, which allows for enforcement measures if landlords fail to bring homes back into use.
This means the council would be able to either take on management of properties or buy them via Empty Dwelling Management Orders and Compulsory Purchase Orders.
There will be those who say the council’s decision to start using compulsory purchase orders to bring houses and flats back to life within six months is a step too far.
But we are in the grip of a housing crisis and the action on empty homes cannot come soon enough.