We are continuing our campaign to highlight the issue of empty homes and encourage empty property owners to bring them back into use by showcasing local case studies.

As a local authority we have a legal duty to make sure properties are safe and suitable to live in (Housing Act 2004). The Council’s level of involvement does vary in each case depending on the property, but the empty homes campaign is mainly about demonstrating successful examples of what can be done with long term empty homes, and also find out, through surveys, what more the Council can do to assist owners in bringing properties back into use.

Empty homes are in private ownership, and we aim to give credit to all those involved in playing their part to bring much needed homes into use.

If you are a local community group that wants to get involved, please get in touch via our empty homes page. 

Following negotiations with the owner of three long-term empty properties in Torre, Environmental Health Officers ensured the owner had all the options available to them to sell or bring the properties back into use. The owner decided to sell via auction to a local contractor, via Bettesworths Property Agents. The adjoining properties in Torre had been empty for a number of years and had attracted anti-social behaviour.

By working alongside the owner, officers were able to demonstrate the need to sell the dilapidated properties, they did do to local developers who are now renovating them into residential flats.

Councillor Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of Torbay Council said: “This is great news for the Bay as it brings run-down properties back into use, providing homes for people who desperately need them.

“This was a win for the developer, who renovated the property, the owner who was able to realise cash from a wasted asset and invest elsewhere, and for the local community who now have homes for local people, with no run-down property impacting on the community.”

Councillor Swithin Long, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Tourism and Housing for Torbay Council, said: “An empty property is a wasted asset and a potential home to someone who needs it.

“There are many and various reasons that a property becomes empty. We would like to hear from owners, or previous owners of empty homes to find out why properties remain empty, and what the barriers are to bringing it back into use. As the local housing authority, Torbay Council is in a position to assist you. If you think we can help, we want to hear about it.”

Paul Bettesworth (agents), said: “These properties had been long neglected and were in a very poor state of repair. Often, we meet new clients who believe that dealing with an empty is more stress and trouble than it’s worth, with the perception of very limited sale value. However, somebody in the market will always see the potential of these properties. As specialists, we offer an end to end service, from taking on the marketing and sale, to also organising clearance, security and any vital repairs to get the property sold.”

Rich (Westcountry Fire Protection, owner) said: “We saw an opportunity to bring a derelict property back into use and provide three much needed homes in Torbay. Bringing property back into use is the right thing to do and works alongside our business ethic of helping people staying safe and secure. We’d encourage others looking to invest in homes to do the same.”

Margaret Forbes-Hamilton, Chair of the Torre and Upton Community Partnership, said: “Torre and Upton Community Partnership welcomes the news that more empty properties are being brought back into use, helping with the need for homes.”

If you want to report an empty home, or are an owner stuck for ideas, please see our empty homes page and take the survey. 

In 2021 Torbay Council declared a housing crisis to address local housing issues. Many people in our local communities are struggling to afford accommodation and there is a shortage of housing. Both the Local Plan and Housing Strategy went out for public consultation at the end of 2022, setting out different options for how Torbay can meet housing targets, whilst protecting the environment. Over a quarter of responses said that the Council should tackle empty homes before thinking of developing on green field sites.

Still time to tell us your views on empty homes

We’ve launched a survey to ask for your views on empty homes, whether you’re a local resident, or an owner having issues bringing a property back into use.

As a Council, we are looking to connect with owners, or landlords who can let their homes to a family at risk of homelessness, and there is a range of incentives and support available to ensure smooth tenancies.

See our empty homes page and take the survey.

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