Forest Heath council's call to plug homes gap

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Owners of empty properties are being urged by the council to let out their homes to help solve the massive housing shortfall.

Across Forest Heath, where there are currently 883 people on the housing waiting list, 291 properties have been empty for more than six months with 25 homes in Newmarket vacant for more than two years and nine in Mildenhall.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, a member of St Edmundsbury Borough Council but responsible for housing in its district and Forest Heath, said: “While I am sure that there are many personal reasons why a property may become empty for a while, it is also frustrating as we also know that there is a real need for housing.”

She said that it could not meet the local housing need on its own, and needed landlords and property owners to work with it to close the gap.

Forest Heath does already have policy to encourage owners to let out their properties offering a grant of up to £20,000 for repairs on homes that have been empty for more than a year.

But if properties remain empty for more than two years then their owners will see their council tax rates increase.