Experts from the University’s Housing and Urban Studies Unit and Salford Business School will be using innovative ways to trace absentee owners and encourage them to bring their property back into use.
The problem of empty homes in Greater Manchester is a pressing one. There are 25,000 empty properties in the region and if they were all brought back into the market they would help address the 100,000-strong social housing waiting list.
However the reasons for being the owner of an empty home are extremely diverse and even more difficult to address. Homeowners can be located almost anywhere, be of any ethnic or age profile and may be unwilling or unable to do anything with the house due to finance, emotional attachment or family breakdown.
The aim is to bring 930 homes back into use during the project, but more importantly, to learn lessons that can be applied in Greater Manchester and, eventually, further afield.
To help solve the problem the researchers will be working with officers from Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council to develop new techniques. This includes exploring how social media could engagement with empty home owners, as well as linking owners to housing organisations that will be able to manage the empty home on their behalf.
The project is funded through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) which is a government backed scheme to bring academics at the cutting edge of their fields into business and other organisations.
Dr Lisa Scullion is the researcher from the Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit who will be working with Tameside Council. “This is not only a widespread problem, but a difficult one to solve,” she said.
“However, by adopting some new ways of thinking – such as the use of social media – and providing support to empty home owners, we’re hopeful that a method can be developed that will allow us to increase the number of homes being used as they were intended when built.”