Delays of empty Brighton and Hove houses increase due to Covid-19 Brighton News

THE council has taken much longer to get its empty homes back up and running over the past year and has blamed the coronavirus.

The average number of days social housing and apartments remained empty between the departure of tenants and the arrival of new tenants has risen from 43 days to 135 days, according to a new report.

More than 200 communal properties changed hands during the year until the end of March – and nearly 450 during the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The issue was raised by residents’ representatives at the Brighton and Hove City Council housing management panels held this week.

Roy Crowhurst, who chairs the Woods House Residents’ Association in Sackville Road, Hove, a council ward for those over 55, was one of those who spoke.

He said the council claimed to prioritize renovating one-bedroom and specialist senior housing, but this was not reflected in his experience.

Mr Crowhurst said five apartments were empty in his building, some since September of last year.

The situation was similar at Churchill House, on Hangleton Road, with people wanting to move from family homes to senior housing when the apartments were empty and awaiting new decor.

Council housing repair manager Glyn Huelin said that generally preparing and re-renting properties was a “challenge”.

The time taken to straighten them out had increased due to the pandemic, he said, adding, “There is a lot of work going on trying to move the properties forward.

“The things related to it are contractors replacing kitchens and bathrooms and emptying properties.

“These contracts are working but were delayed last year which has had an impact.”

At the end of March, 311 social housing units were empty, which Huelin said was a “significant increase” from previous years. The figure for the end of March last year was 78.

Council housing operations manager Justine Harris said senior housing was rented but it would take some time to get back on track.

The municipality’s repair service recruited more people with a trade to do the work needed to restore empty houses.

Union adviser John Allcock, who chaired the Western Region panel meeting, said: “I’m sure the residents understand that the covid has had an impact on this.

“But at the same time, empty social housing means people are not being housed while we are desperate to get people off the waiting list.”

Councilor Allcock said people moving from larger homes to smaller homes, especially the elderly, have released the larger homes they badly need.

He also said empty properties meant lost income – with the council losing not only rents but also council tax.

The council has 11,698 housing units, of which 877 are classified as senior housing. The council also funded 2,207 homeless households in temporary housing.

In the past year, the council has built or purchased 144 homes, including 12 new homes in Buckley Close, 38 in Hartington Road and 30 in Hawkridge Court.

He bought 64 properties from people who bought their homes under the “right to buy” regime.

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This notice was published: 2021-06-01 23:01:00

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