§ Mrs. Jeger
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will announce measures to bring into fuller use empty and under-used dwellings in both public and private sectors; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Freeson
Although there are often legitimate reasons for property being empty, I am most concerned that, especially in areas of housing stress and shortage, privately-owned and local authority property which is vacant or under-used should be occupied by people in housing need as quickly as possible. I am examining a number of practical steps to achieve this, including measures70W to enable empty private properties to be brought into social control in co-operation with local authorities or housing associations.
Among the proposals I am studying are:
- 1. Arrangements between owners of empty properties and local authorities or housing associations which could make use of the properties on an ad hoc basis. Where ultimately other use was intended, possession could be restored to the owners, with the authority or association making other housing arrangements for the tenants.
- 2. Use of property awaiting demolition or improvement to house homeless families who might otherwise be in "bed and breakfast" accommodation.
- 3. Schemes for local authorities to make agreements for the management and letting of properties of large private owners.
- 4. Selective conversion of large under-occupied local authority houses to provide more small dwellings.
- 5. A rapid repairs service to deal quickly with properties bought by local authorities in a state of disrepair.
- My Department will consult on these and other possibilities with representatives of local authorities, housing associations and private landlords about the problems, and I hope to make a further statement soon.