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EMPTY HOMES TO BE RENTED

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There is widespread support for plans to give councils powers to take over empty homes and let them out at affordab...
There is widespread support for plans to give councils powers to take over empty homes and let them out at affordable rents, peers have been told.

Housing and planning minister Lord Rooker said there had been a positive response to the issue during consultation last year.

He pledged there would be safeguards to prevent powers being abused.

As the Housing Bill received an unopposed second reading, Lord Rooker said: 'Now is the time to legislate to deal with the hard core of long-term empty homes.'

He stressed: 'This is not sequestration - it is not taking over the ownership of homes.

'The intention is to apply it to genuine cases of housing vacancy.'

The bill has cleared the Commons, but Lord Rooker will introduce amendments in the Lords to give councils the new powers.

Conservative spokesperson Baroness Hanham said there would be scrutiny of the definition of an empty home.

She said: 'It is one thing to prepare and bring back into use housing which has been left vacant for structural regeneration purposes.

'It is quite another when properties are genuinely used either as second homes or as pieds-a-terre.'

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