The number of empty council houses and flats has fallen but the vacant homes – or voids – are likely to leave the town hall coffers short by more than £1 million this year.
The figures were revealed at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting at Hove Town Hall this evening (Wednesday 28 September).
Conservative councillor Anne Meadows asked how many council homes were empty after raising concerns about delays in carrying out repairs and maintenance.
She told the council’s Housing Committee that, as of May, lost rent from empty homes was predicted to be £1.34 million in the current financial year. This was more than double the original budget of £636,000.
Green councillor David Gibson, who co-chairs the committee, said that the number of empty properties had fallen from the 210 reported in May to 170 at the end of last month.
Councillor Gibson also said that the council was reletting properties more quickly, taking 150 days rather than 177 days previously.
He said that the average relet time had a “long way to go” because the figures included properties that were empty for a long time during the coronavirus pandemic.
Delays occurred because covid-19 affected staff levels and contractor capacity, he said.
The forecast rent loss had fallen to just over £1 million, with an increase to the missed rent budget of £721,000, which Councillor Gibson said was a “big shift”.
He hoped that lost rents would be closer to budget by the end of the year.
He also said that the number of homes relet had increased, with 472 homes going to new tenants in the past financial year – 2021-22.
This figure was higher than the pre-pandemic level of 445 a year.
Councillor Gibson said: “We’re operating at a higher level now than we were before the pandemic.
“In August, the service let 62 empty council homes, so if you times that by 12, you get an enormous figure, which would be very impressive if that could be sustained.”
In the first quarter of 2022-23, the number of households on the housing register stood at 7,592, down from 7,686 in the final quarter of 2021-22.
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