95-day turnaround for empty Gateshead Council houses to be re-let ready draws criticism

Gateshead Civic Centre
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

The average time spent to make empty social housing ready for letting in Gateshead has been branded not "really acceptable" at 95 days.

A housing report from Gateshead Council has revealed it takes, on average, 95 days to get a property from empty to suitable to rent out. However, it also takes an additional 43 days on average to get the property from ready to let.

According to the council’s report in the final quarter of 2023/24, there were over 600 vacant properties many of which will be let until 2024/25. The total number of empty homes includes homes “on hold” subject to options appraisals or on hold because they are undergoing or waiting for structural works.

The report states: "Because of the ongoing impact of existing void properties and the developments being made to the lettings process, the average days to let will continue to be high. Once long-term voids have been repaired and let, then we can plan for better performance against this indicator from 2025/26 onwards.”

However, the average times have drawn the ire of Chopwell and Rowlands Gill councillor, and former cabinet member for adult social care, coun Michael McNestry.

Coun McNestry said: “My first point is on the voids situation about 600 properties. With an average of 95 days from bringing them back, we are losing a lot of revenue because of that and that really needs addressing.

Coin McNestry continued: “Picking up on this report, the length of time we’ve got voids isn’t really acceptable.”

Gateshead Council’s housing, environment and healthy communities scrutiny committee were informed that its repairs services was currently recruiting 32 new posts to replace non-specialist contractors to “improve performance, responsiveness, and value for money”.

A separate council report on voids also showed the council’s construction services had increased the number of empty properties made available to let from 1,149 in 2022/23 to 1,296 in 2023/24, an increase of 13%.