In our third annual review for North Hertfordshire District Council, we helped to reduce the long term empty property caseload by nearly 20%.
In 2017, North Hertfordshire District Council decided to relieve the pressure on staff. They wanted an external partner to deliver a review of empty properties and second homes. So they accessed a framework contract set up by Hertfordshire County Council, and 2019 marked the third annual review.
Each year, we assigned a dedicated Service Manager to work with the council’s key stakeholders to agree on the data that’s needed and to review all relevant policies and procedures.
We work with a leading credit reference agency, Experian. So we provide robust data that establishes confirmed empty properties and reduces unnecessary contact and minimise printing. Analysis of this data then establishes the households requiring letters. We send the letters and manages all incoming enquiries. And we update the council’s NEC Revenues system and issue follow-up documentation where required.
“Each year NEC has delivered an effective, fully managed empty property review for North Herts District Council. Their staff are proficient in all aspects of the scope of this work. NEC also uses trained local authority staff to manage any property visits, which adds an extra level of assurance that customer contact is being handled with sensitivity.”
At each stage of the review, we track all incoming declarations received, either digitally or by mail, from the canvass and reminder forms. Where a response is not received, we arrange property visits to establish the occupation status of the property. Then property visiting officers from our partner authority, Reigate and Banstead, visit each property. Sometimes they visit twice to ensure the council gets the most accurate results. Where officers were able to engage with citizens, they capture full details. And then they relay the information so we can update the Council Tax accounts.
Where property visiting officers could not engage, we schedule the second visit for an evening/weekend, with visual assessments carried out and a visit notification letter left, advising the subsequent action needed.
Over the course of three reviews, we’ve reviewed 4,124 properties and identified 498 as occupied equating to over £3 million in revenue through the New Homes Bonus. In 2019 alone, our review reduced the council’s long term empty property caseload by 19%.
The success of this work has now led to the council selecting NEC to provide additional revenues processing support.
Find out more about our empty property discount reviews.