Empty Homes Week
‘Not pretty vacant’ - Birmingham City Council highlights the blight of empty homes using a play on popular song titles in advance of #EmptyHomesWeek
Next week is the start of Empty Homes Week which runs from 15 to 21 February 2021. The week is a national initiative designed to highlight the issues around empty homes, celebrate successes and discuss what more needs to be done to bring empty properties back into use to help meet housing needs. Birmingham City Council will be playing a key role in the week by highlighting ‘before and after’ shots of properties it has brought back into use on its twitter account @bccemptyhomes. To highlight the issues it will also be using a play on words of popular song titles such as ‘pretty vacant’ by the Sex Pistols.
Matthew Smith, Principal Enforcement Officer with BCC, said ‘BCC currently has a compulsory purchase order running on 13 properties throughout the city which have been empty and causing a visual blight on their streets for far too long, and it is always as a last resort this action will be taken. The empty property team have for many years tried to encourage the owners to bring these properties back into use. To help publicise #emptyhomesweek we will be posting them on our twitter account with a play on words using popular song titles and challenging our followers to jump on board with their own. As a lyricist and music lover I’m really looking forward to seeing what song titles we get sent. It’s a fun way of highlighting what is a very serious problem’.
To highlight the issues involved Councillor Sharon Thompson, whose housing portfolio includes empty homes, last week visited one of the empty properties in Shard End in Birmingham. The property has been empty since 2008 and in 2019 a case was opened by BCC to repossess the property. The original owner had moved away after their partner died leaving the property empty. Financial difficulties led the current owner to believe that property should have been repossessed by the mortgage company but they had failed to take action so BCC will be stepping in.
Councillor Thompson said ‘Homelessness in Birmingham is a big issue for the council. There are now over 17,000 applicants on the housing register in the city and this includes over 4000 council tenants requiring rehousing and 3500 homeless households in temporary accommodation. It is essential that we bring properties like the one in Shard End back into our housing stock so they are available to meet this need. Our team are aware that there are many more properties across the city which have been empty for a long period of time. If anyone knows of a property near them they should contact Matthew's team via email or via @bccemptyhomes