Owners of empty properties asked to help tackle housing shortage

By Toby Porter

Owners of empty or under-utilised properties in Kensington and Chelsea are being asked to bring them back into use to help tackle the borough’s housing shortage

Kensington and Chelsea council will be contacting landlords of empty homes to encourage them to offer the properties to those in need at a subsidised rate – especially key workers.

Town hall housing officers will also work with landlords to find tenants and ensure tenancies are managed properly.

One out of every 40 homes is identified as empty in a borough with the highest land values in the United Kingdom and average house prices of £1.4m.

Officers also have the weapon of the law to bring properties back into use.

Councillor Kim Taylor-Smith, Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Grenfell, Housing and Social Investment said: “The paradox of empty homes in a borough with such a high level of housing need is not lost on us.

“Key workers have been travelling from across London to keep our essential services going in the pandemic and I would love to be able to bring empty homes back into use to give them a local housing option.

“I hope to tap into the wonderful philanthropy of the borough to achieve this, working collaboratively with landlords who may not currently be receiving any rent for their properties.

“In severe circumstances where landlords refuse to engage, we need the law to help us and we’ll be asking the government to reconsider our ask for more local powers.”

Chris Bailey, Campaign Manager with the charity Action on Empty Homes, said: “In National Empty Homes Week, it’s great to see the Kensington and Chelsea continuing to take on the issue of empty homes seriously.

“During the pandemic, long-term empty homes rose by 20 per cent, while 100,000 homeless families wait for suitable homes in temporary accommodation. We hope Government will see that it’s time for change.

“The Council is working to use the powers and incentives available today, but critically it is also looking forward to the changes to legislation and regulations which it and many other councils have long campaigned for.”

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