Councillors are due to consider ways of tackling the housing crisis in a Suffolk district by bringing its 292 empty homes back into use, including using enforcement action. 

East Suffolk Council’s cabinet will meet tonight (Tuesday, January 3) to discuss possible action to help make more homes available for the 4,505 people on its housing waiting list and solve a "desperate need".

This could include making Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) and Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO). 

An enforced sale could also be made to recover the council’s debt where it has registered a local land charge on an empty property and the owner has failed to repay the costs, although this would only be used as a last resort and would mainly apply to debts of more than £1,000. 

A report for the meeting by councillor Richard Kerry, cabinet member for housing, has revealed that some 50 of the 292 homes have been empty for 10 years or more, while a further 70 had been empty for between five and 10 years. 

Mr Kerry said: “There is a high demand for housing in East Suffolk Council. Properties which sit empty are a wasted resource and could be utilised for sale or rent. 

“As of 5 December, there were 4,505 active applications on the housing register for East Suffolk. There is a desperate need to bring empty properties back into use and increase the supply of housing to help to meet local housing demand.” 

A CPO can be used where a house is in a poor state of repair, is unlikely to be brought back into use by the owner and a clear public benefit would be achieved. 

An EDMO enables the council to take over the management of the property while the owner retains ownership and can be used where a property has been unoccupied for 12 months and the council feel it is unlikely to be occupied in the near future. 

Further options include a voluntary purchase, where the owner has expressed an interest in selling and the council could buy the property or give a landlord grant of up to £15,000 enabling landlords to make private sector housing available for rent. 

Mr Kerry added: “Through new resource, a reviewed toolkit and further enforcement options, East Suffolk Council hope to be able to increase the number of empty homes being brought back into use.”