Too many council houses left empty for too long in Dacorum

Generic empty house EMN-140812-150048001
Generic empty house EMN-140812-150048001

Too many council homes in Dacorum are left empty for too long, according to the latest data.

Housing officers in Dacorum aim to re-let 70 per cent of available properties within 30 days of them becoming vacant.

But data presented to councillors last week shows that the council has failed to meet that target over the past six months.

Fiona Williamson, the council’s assistant director for housing, identified a number of factors that could delay the turnaround of properties.

She said some properties required structural repairs or levels of refurbishing that took longer than 30 days.

And she said significant work could be required if tenants had caused deliberate damage to a property before leaving – with the start of that work delayed further if belongings had been left behind too.

During 2018/19 period there were 13 tenants evicted while a further four dwellings were abandoned, which could have had some impact on the figures.

Meanwhile some adapted properties – such as those with a floor lift, ramped access and internal structural alterations – could be deliberately left empty until there is a tenant who requires those specific adaptations.
Nevertheless a number of areas have been identified and reviewed in order to improve the ‘key to key’ time.
“We don’t want properties remaining empty for any length of time because that impacts on rental income – but more importantly because we have a huge demand for properties,” said Miss Williamson.

> Between January and March this year, just 52 of the 100 properties that were let to new tenants had been turned around in less than a month.

And in the previous three months, of the 91 properties that were re-let, just 38 had been let within the target time.

The report to the housing and communities overview and scrutiny committee says the figures have been “poor” over recent months.

And the data shows they are significantly lower than the period between January and March last year when the 97 of the 126 properties (76.98 per cent) had been let within a month.

It is understood that in April the target was met, when 71.05 per cent of properties were turned around in 30 days.