‘Homesteading' to tackle empty English homes

  • Research has concluded that the process of ‘homesteading' should be brought back to England to bring some of the 710,000 empty homes back into use.

    Homesteading is a process which sees vacant properties being sold at a discount to people who renovate them to create their own homes and was popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

    New independent research from the University of Sheffield in collaboration with charity Empty Homes, looks into the number of empty homes in England and how they could be reduced through the scheme.

    Shortage of housing in the UK is a big problem and Empty Homes believes it is time for national homesteading to become introduced. The researchers argue that homesteading would make a considerable difference in the north as this is where local authorities continue to hold a significant number of empty properties, reports 24dash.

    Homesteading could offer local authorities a positive way forward in dealing with empty properties.

    The research found that homesteading:

    • Was simple to understand for council officials, the media and the wider public.
    • Was being undertaken by a small but growing number of enthusiastic local authorities, social landlords and practitioners.
    • Was the subject of massive local demand.
    • Provided social landlords with an affordable and high-profile means of bringing empty properties back into use to meet local housing needs.
    • Provided opportunities for relatively low-income households to become homeowners.

    David Ireland, Empty Homes chief executive, said: "We know that Homesteading works. There is a clear demand from prospective homeowners for empty homes and this research shows that there are many things which policy makers can take on board which will enable a major expansion in the scale of homesteading in the UK.

    "We hope that this research will provide the spring-board to enable thousands of empty properties to be brought back into affordable use. We will continue to push for a national homesteading programme to be introduced."

    Lee Crookes and Win Greenhalgh, authors of the report, said: "There are over 710,000 empty properties in England alone and with over 1.2 million people on housing waiting lists throughout England, it makes total economic and social sense to introduce a scheme such as homesteading into the ‘housing toolbox' of local authorities. All the research shows that homesteading works - it is now down to policy makers and politicians to support and extend the use of homesteading as part of their broader efforts to tackle the problem of empty homes."

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