Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Empty Homes

While out around the doors I came across a number of empty homes.  Some of them were fairly obvious with overgrown hedges that stretched across the pavements and overgrown gardens. 

Others may not be as obvious but there are signs on the inside such as a hallway with a mountain of leaflets and circulars piled up behind the letterbox.

Moreover there are plenty of them about.  I know of two houses in the Ballysillan area that have lain empty for the past 20 years and another for 10 years.  I can think of another in South Belfast that was bricked up and had been empty for so long that there was actually a tree growing out of it.

So what can be done about this problem?

You may not be aware that I introduced a DSD Empty Homes Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2016 to tackle this problem.  An empty home can easily become a blight attracting illegal dumping and anti-social behaviour, and it is certainly a missed opportunity to provide a family with a new home.

You can report an empty home to the Empty Homes Unit in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive by telephone on 03448920900 or by visiting www.emptyhomesni.com
Nelson McCausland and local residents
in Fortwilliam Parade
The unit is maintaining a database of all empty properties that it is made aware of from whatever source and the webpage has been in operation since 1 April.

This work involves the NIHE, local councils, Land and Property Services and the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations.  It also involves the general public and you can play your part in helping to remove blight and provide good homes.  So keep a lookout for empty properties in your area and report them to the Empty Homes Unit.  They can then check it out to ascertain the ownership and they will see what can be done.

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