More than 1,500 homes left empty

Almost 1,500 privately-owned homes in the north of the county are empty
Almost 1,500 privately-owned homes in the north of the county are empty

Almost 1,500 privately-owned homes are laying empty across Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and Rushden.

From last month, owners of unused homes have been hit with a 50 per cent premium on their council tax bill – the latest in a set of measures aimed at bringing the houses back into use.

In the Kettering Council area, there are thought to be about 350 private properties which have stood empty for more than six months.

In Corby there are 422, Wellingborough Council is aware of 324 and East Northamptonshire says it has 397 on its list.

In contrast Corby has a list with 2,600 households awaiting social housing, while in East Northamptonshire there are 1,200, in Kettering there are 2,300 and Wellingborough has 2,800 households needing local authority or housing association homes.

A spokesman for East Northamptonshire Council said the authority had teamed up with Corby Council for a joint strategy to try to bring empty homes back into use.

She added: “Over the past two years, 101 long-term empty properties in the district have been brought back into use.

“Of these, 46 were on a priority list because they had been empty for a prolonged period of time or had generated a number of complaints.”

A Kettering Council spokesman said: “We will continue work to bring long-term, problematic empty homes back into use, taking enforcement action where necessary.”

Another measure to target owners of additional properties has been to remove council tax exemptions for unfurnished homes.

Owners of empty properties must now start paying full council tax after just three days after purchasing a property, and once a home has been empty for two years or more, they are hit with the additional 50 per cent premium.

Councils say empty homes can cause problems in communities such as attracting vandalism, fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and vermin.

View from a homeless charity

Rachel Wilson, chief executive of Accommodation Concern, which helps homeless people in Kettering and Corby, said it would be “wonderful” if more empty properties could be made available.

But she said the reasons people are made homeless are more complicated than the availability of housing, adding: “People are more often in need of deposits.

Most landlords will want money up front before they allow a tenant to move in. We, as a charity, are trying to find out how we can access funds to help people in that situation.”