09:00AM, Friday 23 November 2018
The number of homes left empty for six months or more in Slough has risen by 36 per cent since last year, according to government figures.
According to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data, there were 311 properties in Slough left vacant for six or more months — up from 228 last year.
In total, 607 properties were found by the ministry to be ‘unoccupied and substantially unfurnished’.
This compares to 1,286 homes in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, 841 of which were classified as long-term empty homes, meaning 65 per cent of the area’s vacant properties had been sitting empty for six months or more.
Slough Borough Council (SBC) says it owns 209 of the long-term vacant homes and that 103 of these are in Tower and Ashbourne Houses in Chalvey Park.
Government statistics do not include derelict properties that could be refurbished, or second homes that are rarely occupied.
A total of 66 per cent long-term empty properties in Slough were low-value houses in the bottom two council tax bands.
The two council housing blocks are mostly empty and the council has plans to demolish them to make way for new housing, but two residents have been holding out since at least January despite being offered substantial sums by the council to leave.
An SBC spokeswoman said councils have powers such as Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to take over long-term empty properties but says this can be a lengthy legal process.
Next year local authorities will have the power to double council tax on homes left empty for two years or more — a premium currently capped at 50 per cent.
In Slough the council charged a premium on 152 longer-term empty homes.
A spokeswoman from the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead said: “We work hard to ensure that as many homes as possible within the borough are available to local residents and families.
“This includes applying the empty property rules on council tax and carrying out annual reviews of long term empty properties to see if they could be bought back into use.
“It’s important to note that the nature of property within the Royal Borough is vastly different to the neighbouring borough of Slough with the borough having over 10,000 more residential properties than Slough and with considerably more of those properties within the higher council tax bands.”
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