Council rejects extending empty homes discount to landlords despite plea by councillor who described it as a ‘misguided approach’

Councillor Bill Hunt age 71 outside East Cambridgeshire District Council office in Ely.

Councillor Bill Hunt age 71 outside East Cambridgeshire District Council office in Ely. - Credit: James Linsell-Clark /

Councillors rejected a call to extend discounts to landlords with empty houses but have promised to consider it again later in the year.

Councillor Bill Hunt told East Cambs Council that three years ago the discount for empty properties had been reduced from six months to one month. This, he said, was with a view to encouraging owners/landlords to bring them back into use as quickly as possible,

But Cllr Hunt said he considered this a “misguided approach” as landlords wanted to minimise the time properties stood empty anyway.

He said many landlords also wanted to ensure that they were renting the highest quality of properties and a month was insufficient to achieve this.

Landlords, said Cllr Hunt, should not be penalised for undertaking work to upgrade homes and improve the condition of the rental housing stock.

He felt that the discount policy for empty homes should be reviewed now rather than waiting until later in the year and so therefore not implementing any changes until 2018/19.

Cllr Hunt left the meeting whilst the issue was debated when it was decided that any possible changes could not be introduced any sooner than 2018/19,

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“Therefore it was appropriate to review the policy during the coming year,” the council concluded.

The council’s empty homes policy includes the threat of formal action should a properly be empty for a long period and the owner “is unwilling to take reasonable steps” to co-operate on bringing it back into use.

An Empty Dwelling Management Order (EDMO) enables the council to secure occupation and proper management of privately owned properties that have been unoccupied for at least 6 months