Scheme to fill empty homes set to launch
Published on 4th January 2012
A drive to bring back into use hundreds of empty homes in Sandwell is set to be launched.
Sandwell Council will unveil plans to manage properties on behalf of owners if they let them to homeless families at its Private Sector Landlords Forum on Friday 13 January.
There are some 1,700 privately owned homes in the borough that have been left empty for between six months and several years.
Councillor Simon Hackett, the council's cabinet member for housing, said: "At a time when buying a home is out of reach of many first time buyers, and demands are being made for more and more land to be made available to build affordable homes, leaving houses empty for months or years at a time is difficult to understand or accept.
"Empty and neglected properties rapidly become a nuisance to local residents and attract vandalism, fly tipping and other forms of anti-social behaviour.
"In Sandwell virtually all of the empty properties are capable of being refurbished.
"Once this has happened they would provide much-needed accommodation for families looking for a home in the borough.
"Working with officers I have set challenging targets to address the problems that empty homes bring and I am keen to explore new ways of encouraging owners to make their empty properties available to potential new owners or tenants.
"One of the projects being launched in the near future is a leasing scheme that would allow the council to manage properties for private owners to provide accommodation for homeless families.
"I would encourage any landlord or home owner who would like advice on this, or any other aspect of addressing empty homes, to contact our property intervention team on 0121 569 5232 or Liz Mooney on 0121 569 5256 if the enquiry is about leasing."
Since April, the council has written to the owners of over 1,000 empty homes asking why their properties have been left empty and offering advice and guidance to help them bring the property back into use.
The forum will take place in the Council Chamber at Council House in Freeth Street, Oldbury, from 10am.