City of Wolverhampton Council is set to pilot a new initiative to further reduce the number of long term empty residential properties.

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Its Empty Property Strategy has seen more than 1,500 privately owned homes which had been left unoccupied - often in poor condition - brought back into use in the last 8 years.

The number of properties empty for 5 years or more years has been reduced from 330 in 2009 to 59 in October 2016 - a reduction of more than 82%.

Specialist Housing Improvement Officers from the council's Private Sector Housing Team have successfully worked with the owners of properties left empty for a long time to encourage and support them to carry out any required works and get them occupied once again.

In addition to this, Cabinet is expected tomorrow to rubber stamp a pilot programme that will offer grants of up to £500, from an initial £50,000 fund, to encourage more owners of empty properties to act.

The grants will either help owners with legal/agent fees to sell their property or provide an incentive to rent it under the Private Sector Leasing (PSL) Scheme - a hassle free property management service run in association with Wolverhampton Homes.

Councillor Peter Bilson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Housing and Assets, said: "The council aims to ensure that rather than the properties becoming a blight on their neighbourhood, they are either sold to new homeowners or rented out to tenants.

"Not only is it providing more affordable housing to people in Wolverhampton, but it is also improving the city and helping boost the local economy - and this pilot scheme will further enhance the good work that is being done.

"The properties we have become involved with have often stood empty for many years and the condition of them has often deteriorated dramatically.

"This strategy is helping to put these houses back on the market - either to sell or rent - and this in turn is having a positive effect in the areas they are in.

"In addition, it means landlords are once again seeing rental income come in, the value of their properties is increasing and local shops and services are benefiting from new residents occupying the houses - providing a significant boost to the economy.

"This is the equivalent of us building hundreds of new houses across the city and we will continue to focus our efforts on empty houses in the City of Wolverhampton."

The council also provides advice and information to owners about becoming a private landlord, renting out their property, and maintenance issues, as well as receiving reports from the public concerned about an empty property in their area.

The public can report empty properties they are concerned about in their area or get help and information on private sector housing issues by contacting the council on 01902 551155 or visiting Type=articles;Articleid=684;Title=Housing;.

  • released: Tuesday 25 April, 2017