Enforcement will be last resort as Fenland Council tries to bring back up to 1,400 private sector homes into use

Fenland Council is recruiting a new officer to help get 1,400 empty private sector homes in the dist

Fenland Council is recruiting a new officer to help get 1,400 empty private sector homes in the district back into use. Picture; FENLAND COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Up to £38,000 a year is to be paid by Fenland Council to recruit a ‘problem solving officer’ to bring some of the district’s 1,400 empty homes back into use.

The job is being advertised after the council studied a recent survey that showed that of over 1,400 private sector homes sitting empty in Fenland - 500 of these for over six months.

A job description says the new officer will focus on bringing empty homes back into use using, mediation, negotiation, influencing and problem solving techniques following an established process.

"Finally if these techniques are not successful then taking the necessary enforcement action," says the advert.

A council spokesman said: "We want to better understand the reasons behind this and proactively work with owners to bring their properties back into use," said a spokesman.

The council says that following its success in Peterborough, the council is trialling a three stage model to bring properties back into use.

This will see an officer work with owners to "find solutions to the challenges that may prevent a property from being occupied".

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Fenland Council says one of the most common reasons for homes standing empty include the cost of repairs and/or upkeep, challenging market conditions, difficulty in finding tenants and planning restrictions.

"However, many of these can be overcome and teams across the council are well placed to provide specialist support," said the spokesman.

Cllr Sam Hoy, portfolio holder for housing, said: "Every empty home is an opportunity and could provide a warm, safe haven for a local family.

"We know that properties can become vacant for a number of reasons, and in more cases than not, they become occupied again within a few months.

"Long-term empty properties can quickly deteriorate and spoil the look of the local area, which is frustrating for the wider community.

"They also run the risk of being vandalised and attracting anti-social behaviour. The longer they are left, the harder it is to bring them back into use.

She said: "We hope that our efforts will increase the amount of good-quality accommodation available for local people and successfully tackle the derelict properties that bring our communities down."

Applications for the new role are welcomed until October 16.