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Vacant Property

Volume 990: debated on Thursday 7 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what information is available to him concerning the reasons for the number of empty dwellings which could be let; what further steps he intends to take to establish the reasons; and what he proposes to do to remedy the situation.

Comprehensive information about the number of vacant domestic properties in England and the reasons for vacancy is contained in the report of the vacant property survey, which was published on 25 July. The Housing Bill contains a number of important new measures which will enable better use to be made of vacant dwellings. In the private rented sector the most significant of these is shorthold. In the public sector local authorities will be helped by the new improvement for sale scheme and by the provisions for short-term lettings to the homeless, students and job-movers. Prospective purchasers of older houses in poor condition, which were identified by the survey as particularly likely to be empty, will be assisted by the more flexible home improvement grant scheme in the Bill and by homesteading schemes.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the results of the pilot surveys initiated by the previous Government regarding empty properties in certain localities.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the vacant property survey which was undertaken in 1977 by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys. The report of its findings was published on 25 July. Estimates of the number of vacant properties in individual areas are contained in local authorities' housing strategy and investment programmes (HIPS), copies of which are in the Library.