|With Cllr Jay Kramer outside one of the empty homes subject to a CPO|
At the annual council meeting back in May I announced we were developing a housing action plan – the October cabinet meeting approved the details. It involves the council getting stuck in to enforcing better housing conditions in privately rented properties, especially houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).And it involves innovative ways of bringing in money for housing renewal now that the government grants w e used to get have been stopped.
The town has a very high proportion of bedsit/flats, or houses in multiple occupation - four times the national average.
Living conditions in them are often well below standard, so the action plan includes an additional licensing scheme to help tackle these problems and provide greater protection for tenants. It will mean all HMOs will have to be licensed and they will have to meet standards set by the council for housing conditions and for management of the property.
The cabinet meeting confirmed our partnership with Local Space housing association, who are looking to invest £3.5m in Central St Leonards buying up some of the poor quality HMOs and improving and renovating them.
It also agreed to compulsorily purchase 14 long-term empty properties – double the number we successfully targeted back in December. Of the ones we agreed to take over then nearly all are being brought back into positive use by the owners – the compulsory purchase threat clearly concentrated the mind.