Policy Empty Homes Strategy

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3. The local situation

Specific challenges in East Devon

Housing need in East Devon is high.  There were just under 2,000 households waiting for social housing in September 2015.  As well as these households waiting for a home, there are other issues specific to East Devon that make finding an affordable home a particular challenge.  For example, compared to the national average, East Devon has:

  • Lower wages
  • Poor housing conditions in the private sector
  • Fuel poverty and lack affordable warmth
  • Higher than average house prices
  • A significantly higher proportion of households who receive benefits
  • A significantly lower number of available social rented properties
  • Significantly higher number of holiday/second homes

In addition to the above problems, East Devon’s population is expected to rise from 134,400 in 2012 to 143,200 by 2021. 

Some of this need may be met through new building development across the district which includes social housing and in particular the new town development of Cranbrook. 

3.2 The number of empty homes in East Devon

As at 1 April 2015, there were a total of 467 empty properties in East Devon. 

If all of the long term empty homes were bought back into use this would represent meeting around 23% of the housing need of the current households registered with Devon Home Choice.

The information on empty homes comes from two main sources; council tax and members of the public.  We prioritise the empty homes we investigate by the length of time the property has been empty and whether the property is causing any particular problems or not. 

3.3 The evidence over the past 4 years

Below is a table identifying the investigations that have been carried out within the Private Sector Housing Service over the past 4 years and the numbers of cases that have been investigated and the number of properties that have been brought back into occupation by our interventions be they information or action.

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 (up to September)
Number of cases opened and investigated or being investigated. 98 91 58 29 35
Number of cases closed following intervention. (includes properties sold on or occupied) 55 78 44 35 15
Number of cases definitely occupied. 15 13 21 11 10

These figures provide the service with information which is then used to set annual targets.